Feud Over Historic Building Enters New Phase

The Palmetto Compress's future is up for debate again

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By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- Those who want to preserve history in Columbia are going against those who want to make it, and an old building, the historic Palmetto Compress Warehouse, is caught in the middle.

The future of the Palmetto Compress building is once again up for the debate. The issue this time is whether it will be torn down and redeveloped or whether your tax dollars will be used to preserve it.

"They wanna raid the hospitality tax and buy a warehouse for a premium price," said Rusty DePass, a local business owner who is opposed to the City of Columbia purchasing the building.

'They' is theCcity of Columbia. The warehouse is the century old cotton processing plant-turned-self storage facility, Palmetto Compress downtown Columbia. The hospitality tax is that percentage you pay every time you buy food or beverages within city limits.

Outraged business owners say that tax money shouldn't be used for purchasing buildings, no matter how historic.

City government has no business engaging public money of any kind in real estate development," said Dick Stanland, another concerned citizen who is against the City of Columbia buying the building.

The business leaders gathered today to tell city leaders to abandon a plan in play to purchase the warehouse and redevelop it. Our cameras this afternoon captured city workers surveying the site. Essentially, proprietors want local government to back down and let developers develop the space. But, when one private developer proposed to do that and tear the building down to erect student housing, the City jumped in with intent to buy.

"The city doesn't intend to buy the building and keep it for a long time. It's really a bridge," said Guy Jones, a local business owner who supports the City's purchase and preservation of the building.

Jones says purchasing and preserving the space is not only in the best interest of the City but also its economy.

"This will drive tourism into Columbia, which will create more hospitality tax funding. Jones says if the City moves forward with the purchase, shops, dining and office space could become the norm in this once thriving area within one to two years.

"I'm sure we will look back on this and say it was well worthwhile."

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Hootie said on Monday, Apr 8 at 8:44 PM

No way....tear it down and start over....

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