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County forging ahead with ‘Richland Renaissance’ development plan

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Richland County is forging ahead with a development plan that includes new administrative offices, a new courthouse and judicial campus and a Lower Richland-centered services hub.

“The comprehensive initiative is designed to improve county services to residents, resolve a variety of needs and position the county for the future,” the Richland Public Information Office said in a statement.

Richland County Council voted 6-5 on Tuesday night to purchase undisclosed properties for an unknown amount to move ahead with the project.

Council member Seth Rose was one of the dissenting votes. Rose told The State newspaper that he was concerned about the lack of public input into the plan and the potential for spiraling costs.

Recorded minutes from an Oct. 23 county council committee meeting outlined the design options for a new courthouse and judicial center presented by Philadelphia-based architects MGA Partners. The ad hoc committee reviewed two options: the addition of a 13-story annex to the existing building at 1701 Main St., or the building of a new judicial center at 2020 Hampton St.

The center would be built by a developer and leased by the county, according to the minutes. Two potential designs of a new judicial campus were presented: a 200,000-square-foot courthouse with a 110-square-foot office building, and a 250,000-square-foot courthouse with a 130,000-square-foot office building.

Costs estimates for the judicial center ranged from $104 million to $144 million.

The minutes also revealed a plan to purchase property at Columbia Place Mall on Two Notch Road and move administrative offices there, leaving the 2020 Hampton St. location for judicial operations.

The Lower Richland hub included in the plan would consist of an aquatic center, a magistrate and sheriff’s office, a critical care facility and a library.

Financing the project would not require a tax increase, the county PIO release said.

“Several county facilities – including local offices of state agencies – stand in a state of disrepair,” the release said. “Richland Renaissance will resolve this problem by finding suitable sites to improve the delivery of services to residents and working conditions for employees.”

The project would provide residents in the southeast and northwest parts of the county closer access to services, the release said, and would also begin tackling some of the 16,000 blighted areas identified throughout the county. 

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