Consultants from the Orangeburg Railroad Corner Development Project recommend that the city preserve the historic National Theater and the facades of local buildings while adding new buildings in the future.
“This maximizes the development potential of the site while preserving elements of the state theater,” Sonyia Turner, project manager of Imitative Development Finance at the University of North Carolina, told city council at a meeting. special. âHe mixes preservation with new developments; it also offers opportunities to increase the density of development with the acquisition of additional sites. “
Turner said if the acquisition of additional sites did not take place, the city would still have a workable development plan in place for the area.
Turner said the mixed preservation and new development scenario is most approved of through public engagement, city engagement, and corporate analysis.
The redevelopment recommendation would cost a total of around $ 18.2 million with an expected public investment of between $ 4.5 million and $ 5 million, Turner said.
Railroad Corner is bounded by Russell Street, Boulevard Street and Magnolia Street. The area is often presented by municipal authorities as the gateway to the city and has long been the subject of redevelopment efforts.
Over the past four years, the city has purchased approximately 12 properties and 1.5 acres on Railroad Corner to help lock in its revitalization plans. The city is studying other acquisitions.
DFI’s plan recommendation, which has been publicly identified as Scenario B, is called a Reuse and Stimulus Plan.
The plan would reallocate facades, foundations or building materials in new ways aimed at activating the site and giving it a sense of nostalgia, maintaining a sense of place and history, while providing the benefit of a new architecture.
The recommendation would add a four-storey mixed-use development with a commercial first floor and a residential floor.
The recommendation sees the old State Theater building as a cultural space (potential museum), expands multi-family units along Treadwell Street, and redevelops the old gas station into a new commercial space, Turner said.
The plan would open up the site, creating passage opportunities with urban spaces and plazas combined with retail. The plan provides for additional parking on Treadwell Street.
The details of the plan are as follows:
- Commercial space: 14,300 square feet
- Apartments: 51,200 square feet
- Cultural: 6,700 square feet
- Parking spaces: 132
The plan would also make Boulevard Street a one-way street and create a commercial pedestrian plaza around the corner.
Turner said that for the project to be feasible, it would require an academic partnership for housing, federal and state tax credits, grants, public and academic partnerships, and public participation.
City Councilor Bernard Haire, who has expressed concerns about the possibility of making the boulevard one-way, asked how important in-person public engagement is.
Turner said it was clear with less than 30 people in attendance. She said more than 200 Claflin students were engaged at a public event.
Between 30 and 50 comments were received online, Turner said.
Turner also said DFI has two more public engagement meetings scheduled at South Carolina State University in January about the project.
Haire also asked if timesheets were used at public engagement meetings and was told that timesheets were not used. Turner said she took notes on some of the people who attended and would be happy to share that information.
The city also received a $ 350,000 grant from the United States Department of Transportation to conduct a design and engineering study of pedestrian and vehicle traffic around the corner.
The study will examine the possibility of a multimodal network to connect students at South Carolina State University and Claflin University to the downtown area.
The study will also seek to identify road improvements needed for better vehicle flow along Magnolia Street, Russell Street and Boulevard Street.
The study will also include a preliminary design and feasibility analysis for a pedestrian bridge.
Other development scenarios proposed to the public but not recommended provided for the preservation of all existing buildings in the area. This plan would cost around $ 16 million with a total public investment of around $ 4.5-5 million.
Another plan called for an entirely new construction, meaning all existing buildings would have been razed but still focus on the history of the area. The total cost of this plan would have been around $ 18 million with a public investment of between $ 4 million and $ 4.5 million.
Now that a recommendation has been made, city council will vote on the plan in January 2022.
The plan will then be published for solicitation from the private development sector in February 2022.
The solicitation period would be open for 90 days, ending around April 2022. A development selection process would then be carried out in late spring or early summer 2022.
The latest project updates are available online at: orangeburg.sc.us/railroadcorner