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      City leaders give final approval to buy Palmetto Compress Building

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - The debate surrounding the historical Palmetto Compress Building is over.

      Capital City leaders voted 5-2 to give final approval for the city to buy the building, but the decision didn't come without a fight from opponents.

      A large crowd of opponents showed up at Tuesday's city council meeting and put head on city leaders demanding answers about why the city is purchasing the palmetto Compress Building.

      Rusty Depass, a political activist has been one of many Columbia residents pushing for the city to not purchase the nearly century old building. He says it's not a good idea for the city to get into the speculative real estate business.

      "This is not a Main Street office building that tenants are going to want to move into," said Depass. "You've got to change this entire structure support it. You've got to maintain it. It's going to be a very, very expensive proposition that the city is going to lose millions of dollars on."

      Tuesday's debate centered on where the city's cash to buy the building was coming from.

      City officials said on Wednesday that the money used was coming from a federal mandated fund the city puts money into yearly, and no cash is coming from any benefit funds for city retirees.

      Mayor Benjamin says they already have a dozen developers wanting a piece of the property, and the city's purchase is preserving the building from being demolished.

      "We will be judged by the type of legacy that we leave our children and how we preserve our history for our children," said Benjamin. " We cannot allow historic treasures to be destroyed everyday."

      The Columbia Development Corporation will be handling the financing of the purchase. City leaders plan to meet with them on Friday.