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Columbia community gives input about new Allen Benedict Court plans

Columbia Housing hosted a meeting Monday to let the community see their latest plans for the Allen Benedict Court property.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Plans to upgrade the former Allen Benedict Court property have been released to the public.

Almost a year ago to the day, the housing complex was demolished. The apartments were deemed unsafe in 2019 after two men were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.

RELATED: Two found dead inside units at Columbia apartment complex

Now, the Columbia Housing Authority is working to upgrade the property.

"Allen Benedict Court is such a historic place that means so much to the community, so for us, it was important to be extremely thoughtful in how we redeveloped going forward," said Columbia Housing CEO, Yvonda Bean.

Last year, the Columbia Housing Authority said the project would consist of two senior buildings, 96 townhomes for families, and 99 units for workforce residents. However, the plans look a bit different now.

"We do know that senior, multi-family, and workforce housing will be the three main components of housing offered," Bean explained. "The exact count right now we don't know. We are hoping to be able to realize over 400 units when it's all said and done."

RELATED: Family evacuated after Allen Benedict gas leak finally has a place to call home after three years

Patricia Felder, a long-time resident of Columbia, says she looks forward to the senior housing plans.

"Having senior living as well as traditional with the young people, I like that because sometimes senior citizens are left out," Felder said.

The original cost of the project was $88 million but Columbia housing believes the price will be more due to inflation. With increased cost, also comes a longer timeline.

Demolition was supposed to be completed two years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on the plans.

RELATED: "You've got to go on": 81-year-old woman starts over after Allen Benedict Court tragedy

With the new build, Columbia Housing Authority says they are hoping to bring new life to an area the community has loved for almost a century. They say residents who were displaced by the closure three years ago will be welcomed back, and have first pick of the property.

The Housing Authority is also collecting stories and photos from former residents of the Allen Benedict property, through The Allen Benedict Court: Forever in My Heart campaign.

The housing project is set to be completed by 2024.

RELATED: 'I was in the belly of Hell': ex-Allen Benedict Court resident describes living there

The Columbia Housing Authority will have another input meeting for the community on Monday, October 17 at the Cecil Tillis Community Center.

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