West Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Four houses in West Columbia's historic New Brookland neighborhood were demolished this week. This comes as the city prepares to move forward on plans for new parking spaces.
People living in that area and local organizations have been fighting the demolition, hoping to preserve the history of those 100-year-old houses.
Historic Columbia says they gave the city several alternatives to tearing down the homes.
"The first option was to rehabilitate them and leave them in place," says Robin Waites, executive director of Historic Columbia. "The second option was to identify locations that the buildings could be moved. The third option is that if you're going to demolish them, there's a lot of historic materials in there that could be salvaged so that everything doesn't go into a landfill."
Waites says she believed their proposals fell on deaf ears.
"We connected the city administrator with a couple of those folks who were interested in that and didn't have any response from the city," says Waites.
Councilman Tem Miles, who oversees that area of West Columbia, explained that the city did look into moving the homes to another area within the "Mill Hill."
"We attempted to contact all of the owners of vacant lots in the Mill hill to see about relocating the homes," says Councilman Miles. "Out of the owners who were responsive to our inquiry, none of them were interested in receiving the homes."
Ultimately the city decided to demolish, with plans to expand a park, making it handicap accessible, and to create more parking for the river walk. The city started the demolition so that they can work to complete the expanded park and parking lot by spring.
Across the street, construction continues on the new $40 million complex, that will feature 202 apartments, retail space and a two-story parking deck.
"I understand that parking is an issue," says Jennifer Moons Boyd, West Columbia resident. "Essentially what we wanted to do was have time. What we were asking the city to do is have an unbiased planner actually do a study on this area to see where the parking would be best and how to go about doing that. There were hundred year old heart pine floors in those homes that, no matter what condition they were in, could've been saved and they're all in a dumpster now."
One more home could be torn down for the city's project, but Waites and Moons Boyd say they're fighting to save it.
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