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Richland County Council to vote to move County Sheriff's Department

Richland County Council is expected to vote on a $40 million ordinance, allowing the sheriff's department to expand into the former Burlington Coat Factory.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia Place Mall saw many changes over the years with many businesses closing for good and leaving open retail spaces. Some of that space could soon be used for a new purpose. 

Richland County Council is expected to vote next week on $40 million ordinance, which would allow the Richland County Sheriff's Department to expand parts of their agency into the former Burlington Coat Factory in the mall. 

"Well, it's been a 5 year project for us, and we're finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. "We've been working with County Council to fund a new 911 communications center, a state of the art facility that this county needs. We've also outgrown our evidence room and our forensics lab, so I'm very excited about what the county is moving forward and doing."

The county purchased Burlington Coat Factory back in 2018, along with the former Sears and Dillard's as part of its Richland Renaissance plan. 

RELATED: Richland Renaissance plan brought back by county council

Sheriff Lott told News 19, current tenants would not be forced to move. He said, this development could bring in more customers and businesses. 

"This is gonna kinda be a spark plug that’s going to start new businesses coming in and revitalize that area," Sheriff Lott said. "Columbia Mall has been downsized quite a bit over the years. I think this will help this whole area a lot and help the residents in the area."

RELATED: City of Columbia expects to see more business and residential growth

Richland County resident Ashlyn Davis said this possible development is exciting and she is looking forward to the possibilities for the area. 

"I feel like it’s a great idea," Davis said. "I feel like we need to expand more so we can get more help out there because it’s like people are still getting hurt out there, it’s not enough people to help around."

Isabel Ortiz is another county resident who is looking forward to this development. She said she would feel more safe in her community with the addition. 

RELATED: Four shootings in Richland County over the weekend injure 13 people

"I definitely feel like it’s a good use of space, especially for the area that we’re in," Ortiz said. "I think it’s a really great opportunity to better serve and protect the community."

Sheriff Lott said if the ordinance is approved, it would take around six months before construction begins. He said the expansion of the department would be complete sometime between 18 months to two years down the road. 

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