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Irmo Town Council hoping to create downtown district

This is still the early stages. Council tells News 19 they'd like to purchase 12 parcels of land near the community park, but property owners are opposed.

IRMO, S.C. — Irmo town council considering creating a downtown district. But homeowners who live on the property the town is considering buying are not ready to give it up. 

This map from an Irmo council member shows land that backs up to the Irmo Community Park from Carlisle Street to Church Street. It's the property the town is considering purchasing for a downtown district or Main Street area.

Credit: Town of Irmo
Irmo proposal for Downtown District

"Really that's all that was presented, was a business model and the key to that model was for us to acquire 12 parcels, which is a little bit less than nine acres and that would secure the payment, the repayment of the money we invest to put into the road," Bill Danielson, town council member said.

Councilman Danielson tells News 19 that council would need to invest about $3M to pave that road, add water, sewer and street lights. 

Credit: Town of Irmo
Parcels needed for proposed Irmo Downtown District

He adds that timing is good right now because of American Rescue Plan Act funds from the federal government and council has a steady flow of hospitality tax funds to secure a bond.

"We don't have to have all 12. Whether we decide to move forward without any of the properties, that's another whole decision," Danielson said.

The problem is that these homeowners living on this property tell me they never heard any communication about this plan by council until the council meeting last week. 

On December 20, 2022, a vote of 4-1 from the Irmo Town Council approves the hiring of a real estate acquisition firm to negotiate terms with these property owners to buy the land and establish the downtown district.

Council explains the idea behind this downtown district comes from an Irmo Chamber of Commerce survey residents took years ago, indicating an area like this was needed.

"We want to be treated fairly, just like anybody else would because if you had it, you would do the same thing," Ralph Brannon, property owner said.

Brannon explains there are about 4-5 family properties on this land council is considering.

He says it's legacy, generational kind of land that's passed down to family, like his nephew.

"My grandma, she just died. She was 98. My great grandfather, I never got to meet him and he was a great man. He built everything. He built the house she died in this year in August," Michael Morgan, Brannon's nephew said.

Michaela Morgan, Brannon's niece lives in one of these houses now with her son. 

"I don't think someone would want somebody to come where they're living and just take it. A place where you lay your head. You want somebody to come take that from you? That's not right. So you should consult with us first before doing that," Morgan said.

"You always expect some pushback. I didn't expect, I don't think anybody on the council expected the level of the pushback," Danielson said.

According to Irmo's mayor, there's a meeting set up for council to speak with some of these homeowners about next steps on January 8, 2022 at 4 p.m. at Macedonia Baptist Church in Irmo.

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