Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The building that once housed an old Columbia restaurant named "The Varsity" is slated for demolition.

City leaders say the building hasn't been occupied for over a decade, and that they've been fighting with the owners to clean it up.

"It's been a long and arduous process," said Columbia City Councilman Sam Davis, who said part of that process included taking legal options after trying to work with the owners.

Columbia Fire Department officials say the building has sat vacant for over a decade, becoming a problem for some in the area.

"Your worst fear is, because of the condition of this building, and how it has deteriorated, one day it's going to be burning and some body's going to be inside there and we can't get into it, said Chief Aubrey Jenkins of the Columbia Fire Department, adding that the building has been condemned.

The city's Fire Marshall Office has issued 19 citations against the owners.

Some neighbors, like 30-year resident Ellen Cooper agree and are glad to see the demolition.

"It either needed to come down or it needed to be fixed," said Cooper. "It's also a hazard. I've seen children trying to climb in an open window down here, and if they got in there, they could hurt themselves."

Other neighbors, like Toby Hoffman, who said he was once allowed inside the building, believes in alternatives.

"I'd like to see if turned into something nice, maybe a cafe, breakfast, lunch, (or) dinner place," Hoffman said.

Now, Councilman Davis wants the city to focus on developing the area north of the city.

"This is the next frontier for development," Davis said, "and if you notice, there are the large real estate signs now. There is a focus on the northern part of the city."

City fire officials say they expect demolition to begin within ten days.

Read or Share this story: