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Bull St. Plans Move Forward

10:56 PM, Jul 1, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The plans between the City of Columbia and developer Bob Hughes to transform a property on Bull Street moved one step closer to implementation Monday.

During an afternoon public hearing, many expressed concern over the conservation of the historical aspects of the building, though plans call for special protection for five of the campus' buildings, including the Babcock building, the most visible of the structures.

"The Babcock is protected, the Chapel is protected now under the plan," said Palmetto Trust for Historic Places Executive Director Mike Bedenbaugh, "but there's another 200,000 square feet of other space that makes up the village that can help make this place successful if it's used properly."

Starting in the 1800's the old campus was a place where the state's mentally ill were treated, and now it has morphed into a symbol of contention, dividing many along lines of policy.

One man during Monday's hearing, identifying himself as the owner of a business right next to the Bull St. property, expressed discontent with the buildings apparent neglect, describing it as a magnet for "prostitution, drug deals and homelessness."

"Do we want the homeless center of the southeast, or do we want economic development," he said.

During the hearing, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin likened the project to other state projects which have promised to bring jobs and revenue to local economies.

"For ten years of community input, and three years of intense negotiation and [I] believe this agreement strikes a good balance," Benjamin said.

The next public hearing -- and reading of the plan will take place July 9. If the plans again pass Council vote, the plans will become final.

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