COLUMBIA, S.C. — Historic renovation specialists and owners of the Babcock Building, Clachan Properties, are speaking out on the fire that destroyed a majority of the historic building and Columbia icon.
President of Clachan Properties, Hugh Shytle, released a statement:
"The Babcock fire attacked the hopes and dreams of all of Columbia and the Midlands to preserve an important part of history. The possibility that it was deliberately started makes it even worse.
It will take time to know the extent of the damage, but we have a great project team skilled in historic preservation to help us make an assessment.
Our assumption at this time is that we will be able to go forward because of the rapid response of the Columbia Fire Department.
We are going into this assessment with the mindset of knowing this is a setback, but we need to find ways to overcome it, if at all possible. "
Clachan Properties undertook the renovation of the Babcock Building knowing its significance to the community. Our commitment is not diminished. Our enthusiasm is solid.
We just ask for time to assess the damage and develop a plan."
The Virginia based company says the owners are in Columbia and plan to assess the damage Tuesday in order to make future plans with the property.
According to the Columbia Fire Department, they received a call around 6:30 Saturday morning for the Babcock Building, located on Bull Street. When crews arrived they found flames coming out of the basement. It was considered a three alarm fire, and over 60 firefighters and law enforcement responded to the blaze.
The building was set to be turned into a set of luxury apartments.
Earlier this year, Virginia based historic renovation specialist Clachan Properties took ownership of the property. Clachan planned to turn the 254,022 square foot building into a 208 unit apartment building.