Columbia, SC (WLTX) - After a decade of speculation, the City of Columbia announced Tuesday there is a development deal for the old mental health property on Bull Street.
"The significant opportunity not just for those of us standing here today, but to the thousands around this great city who are looking for jobs." said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. "The opportunity to get exactly what we want on this site is before us."
Hughes Development of Greenville will develop the property in four phases over the next 20 years.
The city is committed to $31.25 million in infrastructure updates. Hughes is committed to $81.25 million in return on the city's investment.
"This project is absolutely unparalleled in it's size, scope, and the potential it holds for our city," said Benjamin Tuesday outside the historic Babcock Building. "We're talking about the largest project of its kind east of the Mississippi River."
The city has also committed to building two parking garages on the property if Hughes meets certain benchmarks outlined in the agreement.
For the first garage, Hughes must complete a brand new 120,000 square foot building, rehabilitate the Babcock Building, or build a baseball stadium.
"There were a few of us sitting in a room last week working out all the development points of conflict," said Councilman Cameron Runyan.
Runyan highlights 180 acres of prime downtown real estate coming on the city's tax roll as one of the best parts of the deal.
"I'm sure every city wishes they had 180 acres of prime real estate to be developed in their city core," Runyan said.
Under the agreement, the historic value of the Babcock Building, Williams Building, and Chapel of Hope will be preserved.
The mayor said he's also spoken with baseball teams about potentially relocating in Columbia.
"I believe we can take it to another level with a minor league baseball team here. So, those discussions are continuing as we speak," Benjamin said. "What I have seen has left me incredibly excited for this property and incredibly excited for Columbia."