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West Columbia government releases statement on riverfront, and adjacent development

West Columbia, SC - The City of West Columbia has released a statement regarding the new upgrades, development, and construction of a multi-story housing project that is currently underway near the Congaree River in that city that sits just to the west of our state's capital.

In that statement, city leaders have said, "We are excited about what the future holds for this area, and this revitalization project will add a well-deserved amenity for all the citizens of West Columbia, providing easier and greater access to West Columbia’s most popular natural resource, the beautiful Congaree River and the Riverwalk." The statement also said that due to parking limitations, the Riverwalk has not been conveniently accessible to all the citizens of West Columbia. Through this revitalization project, the City of West Columbia is opening a special asset to all the tax-payers in that region, not just the residents of the Mill Village and immediate surrounding neighborhoods. The City of West Columbia says it wants to provide excellent recreation and parking opportunities in the area, particularly for residents wishing to have feasible access to the Riverwalk, and for Mill Village residents frustrated by long-standing challenges with travel, traffic and parking.

During the fall of 2017, the space will be temporarily utilized for parking for the Rhythm on the River concert series, and residents wishing to access the Riverwalk. This project, which is independent from the Brookland Development, creates easy accessibility to the Riverwalk for all West Columbia residents, including the Mill Village. City leaders believe all tax-paying residents deserve access to the beautiful Congaree River and the Riverwalk.

The long-term plan includes the installation of a park and playground for children of all abilities at the corner of Norfolk and Hudson. The new park will be designed with individuals who have special needs in mind and built for the enjoyment and inclusion of all citizens of West Columbia, the statement read.

Originally, city leaders believed that they had good intentions by offering four houses to anyone who could relocate the homes, but upon further due diligence, the city found that the house removal process was not feasible for individuals wanting any of the houses due to obstacles including the high cost to move the structures and a lack of currently available sites on which to relocate the structures. The city's statement also said that in addition to working with nineteen individuals interested in receiving a home, they received a professional opinion from two home moving companies about relocating the houses. Both companies said it would be a nearly impossible task to move any of the homes, even if an individual was able to pay the high cost to move them and had an available site on which to locate a home. None of the interested parties who looked at the homes, however, were willing and able to pay the high cost to move the home and had a current property on which to locate a home. One of the professional opinions advised, "Due to the height issues and the utilities (electrical power, telephone, cable tv, communications cables) and other overhead obstructions involved it would be difficult to move these structures more than (3) or (4) blocks from their present location."

A representative from the city attempted to contact all of the owners of vacant lots within the Mill Village. None of the vacant lot owners who responded were interested in receiving one of the homes. The professional opinion went on to say, "Factor in the costs of a new foundation; upgrades for electrical and plumbing to code, permits, etc. would cause the cost to escalate to the point that the structures are not worth the investments."

The statement was released this week as the city's hire contractor began the process of demolition the homes to start the process of the upgrades.

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