emerging.me

Olympia Mill Village Updates

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I figured I'd give this it's own thread since it could potentially be added to in the future.

I made this map detailing the proposed rail rerouting -- as I understand it -- and showing a number of developments that are either already in progress, proposed or in the visioning stage. It's pretty self-explanatory.

As you can see, the proposed rail rerouting -- I believe it is even more extensive than shown, but this is the only portion that I'm fully aware of -- would likely free up many of those currently divided blocks in Olympia for redevelopment. The light industry and warehouses are already on their way out. The reroute will also, of course, eliminate some key problem crossings on Assembly and Rosewood.

The pink boxes represent developments that I've heard are being kicked around -- kind of on the drawing board. Townhomes would fill the old railroad bed along Heyward St. (which is shown as Alabama St. here for some reason -- both streets are actually called Heyward as far as I know). They would just close the north side of it and fill that in. The pink box behind the Ra Obelisk is a concept for California-style townhomes that would be built up on the old railroad embankment. They would be accessed from Bluff Rd. and Silver St. next to the park -- the appearance of both streets will change dramatically. The third pink box along Lincoln St. next to the River Link is, I believe, a proposal for student apartments and possibly some mixed-use. I don't remember exactly, but I know the first proposal was shot down by area residents so it's back to the drawing board.

Note the Rocky Branch in bright blue. The River Alliance is hoping to get funding for cleanup and restoration of Rocky Branch. The plan is to construct a new portion of the greenway along the branch that would run from Olympia to MLK Park in Five Points -- the legislation is pending. Ultimately, the idea is that you'll be able to travel all the way around Columbia on the greenway -- From Olympia to Five Points to the Bull St. Neighborhood to the Canal to the City Dock to Granby Park and then back to Olympia, full circle (and without getting run over).

Click the thumbnail below to view the map.

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Edited by emerging.me

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Good idea :) I agree that we will definately see more stuff going on in Olympia. What about the old stadium though..... lots of good stuff could happen there :)

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Yeah, I marked the stadium as "expected to be redeveloped." There aren't any immediate plans, but it could be a pretty big deal if the right developer snatches it up. There's a lot of land in there -- the property goes pretty far back.

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Just a brief update to this... The State ran a story last week saying that Mayor Bob wants to bring a small-time ball team in to occupy Cap City Stadium. Bad idea, IMO. I dropped the city council a line and sugguested it be redeveloped with modern townhomes. They were all pretty down with that idea, surprisingly, but one member mentioned that USC wants the property for parking for the Research Campus. I had heard this, but didn't know if it was legit. That would suck. I wrote back and suggested that if that's the way it has to be, then they should at least come to a compromise where the front half of the property is developed into street-front retail/restaurants or something like that. Anything to hide the parking and contribute to renewal in the area. Businesses would be all over it since you would have built-in foot traffic from the parking at the rear. One member said they liked that idea and would bring it up when the topic was next discussed.

Edited by emerging.me

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Assembly Street needs help from South of Blossom to the stadium. This is a heavily traveled route that definitely needs some redevelopment. I don't want another small-time baseball team. Columbia is big enough for AA or AAA. Class A baseball is for small towns.

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What is up with all of the proposed baseball teams in Columbia? I know the sport is America's pastime, but sheesh, gimme a break!

Assembly between Blossom and Williams-Brice has lots of potential, and I think that will be the next area targeted for redevelopment--it's already started to occur with the mill renovations and the gameday condos.

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I noticed you mentioned and marked on the map the "Ra Obelisk." I used to love driving by that thing every so often just to look, but haven't been down that way in a while. I've always wondered though - does anyone know the story behind its being there?

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Neat stuff - thanks for digging up all the info. I particularly like this section of town, as this is where I visit friends most often & considering I live in a mill village in Atlanta & my mom grew up in mill villages around Spartanburg - I like them.

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emerging.me,

Thanks for that! I will definately have to go by there again real soon. Man, I learn something new everyday on here.

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I'll go by and take a pic on Saturday or Sunday. I can't really take credit for digging up the info. I was researching a nearby piece of property and talked with Mike Dawson at the River Alliance about it and he told me the whole story. There's a local artist down there that's accepting donations to go towards the restoration. I'll see if I can find that info and post it when I post the pic.

Edited by emerging.me

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i had the chance to drive by the obelisk yesterday. the sidewalk, benches, and tables are a nice addition, but i was noticing that the paiting of Ra was a lot more faded than the last time i saw it. it definitely could use some restoration. this is off the subject, but as i was driving through rosewood headed back home, i saw where there are building a new terminal at the owens field airport. it looks like it'll be looking pretty good when it's finished. (they really should re-pave jim hamilton blvd though.) ;)

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Hey guys,

Just a quick update. My computer is down, so I haven't been able to post much. Should be back next week.

I'm going to be posting info soon on where you can send donations to the "Friends of Ra" ;) -- the group restoring the obelisk to its former glory. lol It'll be "unveiled" at a community gathering held by the River Alliance once that section of the Mill Village Riverlink is officially open.

On a related note... I saw where that major transportation bill was signed today. If I'm not mistaken, it includes the funds needed for the restoration of the Rocky Branch portion of the Three Rivers Greenway. If that's the case and everything else falls into place, this would clear the way for the cleaning up of Olympia Park (right now you're not really supposed to play in the creek because of the runoff), substantial redevelopment of the Cap. City Stadium property (it will no longer be in a flood plain), and foot/bike path connectivity between Olympia and Five Points. Good news.

Edited by emerging.me

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On a related note... I saw where that major transportation bill was signed today.  If I'm not mistaken, it includes the funds needed for the restoration of the Rocky Branch portion of the Three Rivers Greenway. If that's the case and everything else falls into place, this would clear the way for the cleaning up of Olympia Park (right now you're not really supposed to play in the creek because of the runoff), substantial redevelopment of the Cap. City Stadium property (it will no longer be in a flood plain), and foot/bike path connectivity between Olympia and Five Points.  Good news.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Good news indeed. Some money for minor improvements on Elmwood would have been nice too.

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Figured this worked best in this thread... Baseball is coming back to Capital City Stadium. As you may have read, earlier this week the city council voted (5-2) to extend a six-year lease to Bill Shanahan, former Bombers GM. He's going to buy a summer collegiate league team and bring them there to play in 2006. He's also planning some concerts and events. The deal will cost the city $30,000. Here's the story.

I guess this is a good short-term fix for the ailing property. It will take time for the Rocky Branch restoration to get underway. After that, the property will be out of the flood plain and can be better developed.

You guys think people will come out for these college league games??? The mayor seems to think so. I have my doubts, but they sell beer, so who knows...

Edited by emerging.me

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As requested... here is Ra! :) The obelisk is being restored to its former glory by a group called "Friends of Ra" -- rather tongue in cheekly. They need to raise about $2500 to do it right and are about 1/3 to 1/2 way there. If anyone wants to contribute to the restoration of this important piece of public art in Olympia, please message me or post here and I'll send the details.

Also, this section of the greenway -- the mill village riverlink -- isn't officially open yet (that partially explains why the little pocket park they've created around the monument looks unfinished.

Look for some cool developments to start going down in this immediate vicinity -- note the location on the map I created in the first post of this thread, if you don't know where it's at.

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Edited by emerging.me

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Realized I neglected to post this news item from last week... The trucks from the quarry that have plagued the Olympia neighborhood for decades have finally been rerouted. They now exit along the back of the quarry -- down Rosewood extension. This has been in the works forever, so it's nice to see it finally occur. I think it's a sort of symbolic thing that will usher in more redevelopment in the area.

Good news for Olympia.

Edited by emerging.me

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The fate of many of the projects I've been advocating (the Rocky Branch portion of the greenway, Mill Town Commons, etc.) and the revitalization of the entire Olympia/Granby area hangs in the balance as City Council, Richland County Council and the Richland One Board will meet to discuss a special tax district where revenue from local improvements, such as the mill apartments, would go back into new nearby developments. The millions of dollars in additional funding would ensure that the area becomes a sustainable community again in the near future.

As you guys know, I'm pretty emotionally invested (not financially invested as yet) in this area and I wanted to ask you guys to drop the Richland One School Board, City Council and the Richland County Council an email to ask them to support the special tax district, if you are so inclined.

The groups have only until the end of October to work out a plan and then they would vote in December to approve the district. It is, as The State says in this article, down to the wire.

Edited by emerging.me

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It seems to me that the Rocky Branch greenway is a critical part ot having those mills being redeveloped. It would be a serious slap in the face to those developers and to Olympia in general. I think this one will be passed.

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It seems to me that the Rocky Branch greenway is a critical part ot having those mills being redeveloped. It would be a serious slap in the face to those developers and to Olympia in general. I think this one will be passed.

I really, really hope so. The city council is ALL for it, I know. But Richland One and Richland County have to get on the same page as well. Keep hope alive. :)

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The vote on the Olympia TIF is going down tomorrow night. If you live in Richland County, and you care about the various Olympia community improvement projects, I would encourage you to call your councilperson and ask them to support it. It's not a given by any stretch. My gut tells me that it may pass with some cuts, but I'm not even counting on that. I'm really disappointed by what I've seen coming out of the county council this past week -- councilmembers playing politics because their district isn't yet getting the same sort of assistance and others that just seem so ignornant about something that's been talked about for 5-10 years. Well, I can guarantee them that if this doesn't happen then it will short circuit the whole revitalization process for these close-in neighborhoods and their districts may never see anything. Olympia will just keep slowly churning towards renewal -- maybe you'll see a slight improvement in 10 years. The people saying that Olympia will "take care of itself" don't realize that the new developments that have begun to emerge there have only done so because these improvements have been virtually promised for almost a decade. If this doesn't pass, everything shifts back down into low gear. If it passes, then Olympia booms quickly and the trend spreads to parts of town like Rosewood and North Main.

Personally, I have a project gestating that I'd like to do in Olympia, but if this doesn't happen then it's potentially back to the drawing board. With the way some of the council members are behaving, I'm tempted to start looking in West Columbia/Cayce and spend my money in Lexington County. Really...I'm actually kind of tempted just to pull up stakes and get the hell out of Columbia. I was born and raised here and love this place, but it's projects like this that give me hope that it can be something better than it is. And if the local government can't follow through on commitments they've made to the community that will ensure progress, then I'd just as soon forget my roots and live in some place like Raleigh or Savannah.

I know all of downtown Columbia's renewal doesn't hang on what happens with Olympia, but it is an important part of the puzzle.

Almost a decade ago, Olympia was set to be first real effort to see if local government could leverage resources to bring about positive changes in redeveloping close-in neighborhoods. Will they keep their commitment? We'll see how it goes. The vote is at 7:00PM at 2020 Hampton.

More from The State

Contact Info: Richland County Council

Edited by emerging.me

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The vote on the Olympia TIF is going down tomorrow night. If you live in Richland County, and you care about the various Olympia community improvement projects, I would encourage you to call your councilperson and ask them to support it. It's not a given by any stretch. My gut tells me that it may pass with some cuts, but I'm not even counting on that. I'm really disappointed by what I've seen coming out of the county council this past week -- councilmembers playing politics because their district isn't yet getting the same sort of assistance and others that just seem so ignornant about something that's been talked about for 5-10 years. Well, I can guarantee them that if this doesn't happen then it will short circuit the whole revitalization process for these close-in neighborhoods and their districts may never see anything. Olympia will just keep slowly churning towards renewal -- maybe you'll see a slight improvement in 10 years. The people saying that Olympia will "take care of itself" don't realize that the new developments that have begun to emerge there have only done so because these improvements have been virtually promised for almost a decade. If this doesn't pass, everything shifts back down into low gear. If it passes, then Olympia booms quickly and the trend spreads to parts of town like Rosewood and North Main.

Personally, I have a project gestating that I'd like to do in Olympia, but if this doesn't happen then it's potentially back to the drawing board. With the way some of the council members are behaving, I'm tempted to start looking in West Columbia/Cayce and spend my money in Lexington County. Really...I'm actually kind of tempted just to pull up stakes and get the hell out of Columbia. I was born and raised here and love this place, but it's projects like this that give me hope that it can be something better than it is. And if the local government can't follow through on commitments they've made to the community that will ensure progress, then I'd just as soon forget my roots and live in some place like Raleigh or Savannah.

I know all of downtown Columbia's renewal doesn't hang on what happens with Olympia, but it is an important part of the puzzle.

Almost a decade ago, Olympia was set to be first real effort to see if local government could leverage resources to bring about positive changes in redeveloping close-in neighborhoods. Will they keep their commitment? We'll see how it goes. The vote is at 7:00PM at 2020 Hampton.

More from The State

Contact Info: Richland County Council

That is a very articulate (and accurate) post emerging.me. I can relate to your frustrations. I was Neighborhood President of Elmwood Park a decade ago, and often got miffed at the pettiness, whats-in-it-for-me, and general cluelessness of certain city and county officials/staff. Now that I live in a different city, I see even more clearly how small their mindset can be. Although, no city or region is free of such things.

If the Vista TIF hadn't been enacted, it would still be a run-down warehouse district. The Vista TIF only has a few more years to go I believe. When that TIF expires, there will be a flood of new revenue for the city, county and Richland 1 to more than make up for the 'burden' of increasing development in the Olympia area. The obvious success of the Vista TIF SHOULD be plenty of evidence of what a difference it can make. Yet somehow, the county councilmen seem oblivious to this.

The Olympia TIF has been in the works for years, it should go forward. It is an investment in yourself that will reap plenty of dividends. EauClaire, for one has already received tens of millions of dollars in federal, state and local funds for revitialization. It has worked too. It is selfish for them to insist on a TIF too.

Good luck, and remember, if Columbia isn't progressive enough for you, there are plenty of other places to live.

Edited by vicupstate

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If you think Columbia isn't progressive enough, I can think of other cities worse off, that's for sure.

I wonder what will be done after all of the hype and hoopla concerning the fragmentation of city council. It seems that Columbia doesn't realize its potential to get a leg up on its regional peer cities and reinvent itself into something bigger and better. The leaders of the city need to get it together.

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If you think Columbia isn't progressive enough, I can think of other cities worse off, that's for sure.

I wonder what will be done after all of the hype and hoopla concerning the fragmentation of city council. It seems that Columbia doesn't realize its potential to get a leg up on its regional peer cities and reinvent itself into something bigger and better. The leaders of the city need to get it together.

Yeah... I can tell you this much... if the Olympia TIF doesn't go through, I think we're screwed. I can't see Bernice and Kit, after getting stiffed by these other councilmembers, allowing anything that would benefit them to get through!

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