COLUMBIA (WACH) ?? The Columbia City Council gave final approval to develop the Bull Street property Tuesday evening. The decision, voted 4-2, was reached following hours of heated debate on how to proceed in redeveloping the former Department of Mental Health campus on Bull Street.
Under an agreement with the developer the city will commit to funding $31.25 million for infrastructure improvements over the course of development. The city says they expect full development of the campus to take 20 years. City officials pointed out that the full investment will only be made if the developer shows an $81.25 million return on that investment.Benjamin has said that the 181-acre campus is "the largest development of tract of land in any major downtown East of the Mississippi."
The agreement also protects several of the historically significant buildings on the property including: The Babcock Building (including North and South wings), The Williams Building, The Chapel of Hope and Tree Allee. For other building on the grounds the developer must give City Council the opportunity to relocate them if they are not fit into the final design plan before they could be demolished. The agreement comes after the Bull Street property spent ten years on the market and a further two and a half years of negotiation with the developer. In 2010, an Upstate developer agreed to buy the land for $15 million over a seven year period.