Published on December 22nd, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
Richland Renaissance Will Transform Richland County
(Richland PIO) – Richland County is carrying out a bold, sweeping initiative to improve the livability of local communities, enhance the delivery of government services and position the Capital County to attract more business investment and tourists.
The transformative project is Richland Renaissance.
Richland Renaissance is the County’s first comprehensive endeavor to address, in one plan, several issues facing the County. The initiative includes multiple, major capital improvement and building projects, an extensive revitalization strategy to clean up blighted areas, and an effort to highlight the County’s many historic sites. Richland County Council gave the County Administrator the green light in December to move forward with the project, which does not require an increase in millage.
“I’ve always said I want our County to be one of the best, to be a leader,” said Richland County Council Chair Joyce Dickerson, District 2. “Richland Renaissance gives us that opportunity.”
The County held an unveiling event Dec. 19. Several constituent groups and residents were part of the planning process on individual elements of the project. The components of Richland Renaissance are:
· Consolidation of all County core operations through the acquisition and development of space at the Columbia Place Mall on Two Notch Road. This requires retrofitting, renovating and building to allow the staff at 2020 Hampton, Powell Road and other sites to move to the mall location. The site can easily house all of the County’s core services operations – including County offices of state agencies, such as the health department, elections office and the Department of Social Services. County departments will occupy the former Dillard’s and Sears stores, as well as Burlington. This site will be the “one stop shop” offering a centralized location for the provision of County government services.
· Re-development of the current site at 2020 Hampton St. in Columbia to house a new Richland County Judicial Center. This component of Richland Renaissance assumes using the current site to build the center to meet current needs and provide space for future growth. Once core services are relocated to the Columbia Place Mall site, the transformation of this site will begin. Moving the judicial center to this site will allow these services to remain in the downtown area and keep the facility easily accessible to the judicial community.
· Construction of a multi-purpose facility on Air Base Road. This site will offer a critical health care access facility and more. Currently referred to as the Lower Richland or Southeast center, the facility will rise on County-owned property that is currently undeveloped. The new facility will serve as a County services outpost – specifically a magistrate office and library. It will include an aquatics center, an agribusiness hub and a conference or civic center. The center solves two major concerns in this part of the County: access to medical services and the need for an entertainment venue that will attract tourists with the potential of becoming the destination for national and international sports tournaments in the Midlands region.
· Development of a “start” hub in the Broad River Road area. Through the acquisition and development of a suitable property, this component of the project will house a multi-modal transit center, business incubator and more. Known as The Start Center, this part of the project has several functions, all designed to get something started – whether a business or a destination. Plans call for a multi-modal transportation hub, as well as a center to help entrepreneurs and businesses get started on a path to success. The center will become a tourism hub where visitors can start their exploration of the Capital County.
· The creation of a comprehensive Countywide historic trail. Richland County’s cultural heritage will take center stage through this initiative. While Richland County is not widely viewed as a place of deep historical significance, the trail will highlight and honor the County’s past and serve as another tool to draw tourists to the community.
· Revivify Richland. This is a broad strategy to boost economic development, eliminate blighted areas and enhance the overall livability and image of the County. This component also includes installing various gateway welcome signs at key entry points into Richland County as part of the branding efforts as the Capital County of South Carolina.
This concept for Richland Renaissance began in July 2016, when County Council directed County administrative staff to solve the problem of cramped quarters at the County’s judicial center, located at 1701 Main St. in Columbia. While exploring a solution, elected officials and County staff saw an opportunity to address several issues at once with one wide-ranging initiative.
RICHLAND RENAISSANCE FAST FACTS:
· The project will not increase the millage.
· The project will be funded through financial reserves, short-term debt, Council-approved funds included in Biennium Budget I and the sale of properties.
· The estimated cost to the County for the capital projects is $144,287,000 and includes purchasing properties, construction, retrofitting, etc. Much of the retrofitting of Columbia Place Mall to accommodate employees is expected to be completed by County staff.
· The transformation of the Columbia Place Mall is expected to be completed in 2019.
· Community input is vital to the success of Richland Renaissance – specifically, the Revivify Richland and historic trail components. Community meetings are being planned to ensure residents have ample opportunities to receive more details and to provide feedback.
For more information about Richland Renaissance, visit rcgov.us/RichlandNext.