Richland County, SC (WLTX) -- It's a plan that has received mixed reviews from the county council, but Tuesday afternoon, Richland County unveiled its new plan, which could mean a new courthouse, aquatics center and a medical facility.
"Everyone in this room will be equally proud to live anywhere in Richland County. That's the goal," said Councilwoman Dalhi Myers.
It's called the Richland Renaissance and it's Richland County's first major capitol improvement undertaking.
"I see every day the need that exists in our community for a better delivery of services, for more consolidated approaches to services and for expanded services," said Councilman Calvin Jackson.
The plan includes:
- Tearing down the county administrative building at 2020 Hampton Street and building a new courthouse and judicial complex at that location
- Consolidating the county offices and moving to Columbia Place Mall, buying the former Dillard's and Sears stores, as well as Burlington.
- Constructing a multi-purpose facility on Air Base Road in Lower Richland, which would include a magistrate office, library, aquatics facility and an urgent care medical facility.
- Developing a "start" hub in the Broad River Road Area, which will house a multi-modal transit center and business incubator.
- Creating a comprehensive Countywide historic trail, highlighting and honoring the County's past and serve as another tool to draw tourists to the community.
"We have to be proactive and we have to address the needs of the people we represent," said Councilman Norman Jackson.
There were a handful of council members that were not present at the unveiling, including Seth Rose, who voted against the plan.
"I felt like there needed to be more public input on the front end. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. That makes me very hesitant and gives me a lot of concern," said Rose.
Just a few months ago, the county chambers underwent a $1.2 million renovation, and according to the Richland Renaissance plan, it would be demolished.
"Could we have gone another 3-5 years, possibly. But my guess is, by the time this renovation happens, it'll be 5-8 years down the road. It's not about demolishing a building in the next 3-4 years, so we need something in the next half decade that we can function in," said Councilman Calvin Jackson.
"I support a new courthouse. As an attorney, I know firsthand we need a new courthouse. I don't support moving it to Hampton Street where the council just approved $1.2 million in renovations in council chambers. I think it's financially wasteful and we have more pressing needs in Richland County as this time," said Councilman Rose.
County officials said Richland Renaissance is going to cost $144 million, but Rose thinks it's going to be much more.
"That will roughly be the cost of the courthouse alone. Then we must have to tackle in all the other costs," he said.
Officials said this plan will not raise taxes for citizens. They said they would use unspent and unallocated funds for this project, as well as putting county-owned buildings and properties up for sale.
County leaders will be holding community meetings to discuss Richland Renaissance in more detail.
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