The Columbia Housing Development Corporation followed through with its plans Monday to tear down the Christ Court Structures on Waites Road in Columbia.
The development had become a detriment to the community, and members of the Jones McDonald Neighborhood Association wanted to see them removed.
“It has taken far too long for this community to reach this day,” Neighborhood Association vice-president Alexzena Furgess said of the demolition. “After many complaints to the city about garbage, reports of gunfire and illegal activities and heated meetings with city officials, it is time.”
Furgess called the community “The Gates of Hell.”
The Christ Court Structures were originally used to house individuals that were dealing with substance abuse, and needed a place to get back on their feet, according to CHDC Interim Executive Director Michael Strange.
“The original intent was very good, but over time, the complex became non-functional,” Strange said. “The complex had plumbing issues and electrical issues. The entity that put it together didn’t have the funding to do the regular upkeep.”
Strange said the apartments got to point of renovation, or overhaul, and that’s where Columbia Housing Development stepped in.
“We decided to acquire the sites, and move the residents with the help of the Columbia Housing Authority,” Strange said. “They were very happy to be relocated.”
Strange said the residents were scattered throughout Columbia.
The CHDC purchased the property March 18, 2016, but Strange said lack of funding put the project on hold for almost a year.
“We started to get the money together for the acquisition and demolition, but after doing some research, realized there were some environmental issues we had to have abated which increased the time on the project.”
Strange estimated that the total cost of the project to be $235,000, but added he thinks it will be a good investment.
“Right now we’re going to keep it as a green space,” Strange said. “We plan to issue a request for qualifications for various developers to help us figure out the next, best use for the property. We think it’s residential, but we want to get some more input from developers to help make this a better place.”