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krazeeboi

Orangeburg Developments

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I think there are pretty good things going on in Orangeburg County right now which are worthy of mention.

I think the biggest recent development is the opening of Lake Marion High School and Technology Center, located just outside the town of Santee, which borders expansive Lake Marion, in eastern Orangeburg County. It is a 290,000-square-foot, $21.9 million campus which sits on 95 acres of land. The school boasts a 700-person auditorium, a state-of-the-art media center, a spacious cafeteria, at least four chemistry labs, music rooms, art labs, two indoor gyms, female and male varsity lockers as well as physical education lockers. Outside are a football field, a baseball field, little league field, tennis courts, outside basketball court and walking track. The campus will also be available to the community for conventions, concerts and other cultural events.

The technology center offers classes in carpentry, auto mechanics, culinary, electricity, masonry, and more. It will also have enhanced access to computer technology, allowing Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College to use the campus as a satellite.

Lake Marion High School will replace Holly-Hill Roberts and Elloree high schools. Holly Hill-Roberts has become a middle school and Elloree High has been expanded to become an elementary-middle school. The schools services students from the towns of Elloree, Holly Hill, Vance, Santee and Eutawville.

Here's the only picture I could find of it online:

LMHSTC.jpg

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Orangeburg's miniature water park, or "spray park," which is the only city-owned and operated water park in the state, opened May 29, 2004. The park, located in Edisto Memorial Gardens, has a 6,000-square-foot concrete pad, a playground, a bath house with restrooms and showers and a covered picnic area; it is often visited by local day care facilities, schools, and church groups. Recently, the park garnered the 2005 Municipal Achievement Award from the Municipal Association of South Carolina for the city in the 10,001-20,000 population category. It also won the Outstanding Public Improvement award at the 2004 Community Builders Conference.

There was a picture of the park in the local paper, but not online. :(

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What has given Orangeburg major recognition in the state and even throughout the South is the presence of two 4-year colleges located within the city. Claflin University (my mother's alma mater) and South Carolina State University (where my sister will be a freshman in the fall), two of eight historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU's) in the state, serve as major sources of economic development in the city.

Recently, Claflin received a $750,000 federal grant to develop its health care and biotechnology training program. The university was one of 12 winners selected from nearly 230 applicants competing for funding under the President's High Growth Job Training Initiative. More than $12 million is being awarded nationwide to address opportunities to build a world-class health care and biotechnology workforce. Claflin University will use its grant to create a formal, industry-supported education infrastructure beginning in the primary grades and continuing through formal certificate and two-year degree programs, thereby enabling workers to qualify for 65 percent of the available jobs in the local biotech industry. As a result of this project, 100 students per year will be trained in biotech certificate or degree tracks. And 100 percent of area high schools will incorporate biotech modules into their health science curriculum.

Also, the National Science Foundation has awarded Claflin, along with USC, South Carolina State, Clemson, and MUSC, a $9 million grant to boost collaborative research.

Also, just recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation

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A new Orangeburg County industrial park, located in the Santee area, and backed by the St. Matthews-based Tri-County Electric Cooperative, was approved Monday by County Council. Tri-County will provide up to $200,000 a year for three years toward the expense of acquiring a site and will pay half of the cost for an unidentified 86-acre site, plus infrastructure.

Now I must admit, this one has me somewhat puzzled. Orangeburg already has a pretty decent industrial park located about eight miles away from the city limits right off I-26 on US Highway 301. I'm not sure if this deal is simply sweeter for them economically, or whether they think it will be more successful being closer to I-95 and not I-26.

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Another feather in the county's cap is that it won the 2005 All-America City Award.

Some examples given this year of Orangeburg County's worthiness of such a presitigous award were:

* Renewal of the 1-cent capital projects sales tax. The original penny tax funded 108 projects across the county, totaling $71 million; the renewal should fund 116 projects countywide, totaling $53 million.

* Revitalization of downtown districts in Orangeburg and Elloree and construction of the Orangeburg County Development Commission facility.

* Youth and outreach projects including Healing Species, the Youth Enhancement Summit and Project Life: Positeen. Healing Species brought three of its dogs on stage for the presentation.

Highlighting #2, Orangeburg's ongoing downtown revitalization/streetscaping has been a huge success. The efforts are largely centered around Russell Street, which is Orangeburg's Main Street (it's one of the few main streets I know of that run east to west rather than north to south). One thing that the city has actually implemented well is landscaping; Palmetto trees were not spared, but there are also about 2 others types of trees used as well, and they actually work together well aesthetically. I went home this past weekend and planned to take a few pictures, but I decided against it since it was cloudy; I'd rather wait and get really quality pictures (plus I'll be getting my digital camera in a few weeks!). But here's one that I found online of a lunar eclipse in Orangeburg that may give you guys an idea of what is to come; this picture is of Russell Street facing east towards Highway 21 and the campuses of Claflin and South Carolina State Universities:

4moons.jpg

At this point, I think that Orangeburg has yet to realize its greatest potential downtown in catering to its significant college population. I don't think it's too farfetched to see a bar or lounge or two located downtown in the not-too-distant future. Or the city could somewhat model the success of Five Points in Columbia.

I think that Orangeburg could very well emerge as an up-and-coming municipality to look out for in the state; keep your eyes peeled! ;)

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That is by far the coolest picture I have seen in a while!

Thanks for keeping us informed on what is going on in Orangeburg. I think Orangeburg may indeed be one of the underestimated cities in SC. Its location near 26 and 95 would seem to make it a great location for large companies. I wonder why there have been no big ones lately?

I have not considered Orangeburg a thriving place? How do you see the city, from an economic standpoint?

About the Main Streets- I have never thought about most Main Streets running north to south. In Spartanburg, it runs east/west, so I have always considered north/south to be weird. Since you mentioned it, you seem to be correct. (Greenville, Charleston, and Columbia have N/S main streets)

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Orangeburg has some potential. The central part of the city runs from the Edisto Memorial Gardens and other parks along the Edisto River eastward through downtown and then on to SC State and Claflin Universities. The city's downtown area has some nice historic buildings. Unfortunately, many of them are vacant or underutilized. Only in recent years has the city really become proactive with downtown revitalization (streetscaping, etc.). The county is also trying to push an economic development vision of the county as a distribution and logistics center building on the presence of I-26 and I-95 along with proximity to the port at Charleston. The local option tax is also funding a number of good projects (completed and planned for the future) like a new public safety headquarters, a couple of fire substations, additional phases of downtown streetscaping, a major new park, etc.

Orangeburg is still dealing with a number of issues that I think have held the community back, including a long time neglect of downtown and the older neighborhoods, the demolition of most of the nice historic houses in the neighborhoods immediately around downtown, high county poverty and unemployment rates, increasing difficulty attracting higher paying industrial jobs (blame globalism perhaps), high crime, and problematic race relations. But I think the city and county are both making progress on these fronts from what I hear. A town the size of Orangeburg will always have more limited opportunities for new urbanist type redevelopment and such than Columbia, Charleston, or Greenville due to the lack of a lot of young professionals who support such things (there are not a lot of professional jobs in a town like Orangeburg). I agree with Krazeeboi that the city should really focus on using the two universities as economic development tools and as a way to revive downtown. The eastern end of the county (Santee-Elloree area) has the tourism and retirement activities with Lake Marion to help development there.

I have included below a number of photos from a few years ago when I was in Orangeburg. This is the first time I have tried linking photographs, so I apologize in advance for any problems.

Below are some historic storefronts downtown...

Storefronts.jpg

Below are a couple of detail shots of some storefronts downtown...

Gothic%20Details.jpg

Building%20Detail.jpg

Below is the square in downtown during a streetscape construction project (notice monument and church)...

Square%20Scene.jpg

Below is a shot from the square towards the universities. The red building on the left is an old hotel and the red building on the far right is an old apartment building. Down the street in the distance, you can see a beige building that is a 14-story dorm at SC State and the tallest building in the town. These are Orangeburg's "skyscrapers" as such...

Downtown.jpg

Below is the old 1920s hotel...

1920s%20Hotel.jpg

Below are some old warehouses and a 1950s apartment building...

Old%20Buildings%20and%20Apartments.jpg

Below is city hall with the city auditorium to the rear...

City%20Hall%20and%20Auditorium.jpg

Below is an 1860s county jail...

County%20Jail.jpg

Below is a bank office that was the headquarters for SC Bank and Trust before it relocated its headquarters to a new building on Gervais Street in the Congaree Vista in Columbia. The bank still maintains part of its operations in Orangeburg...

Office%20Building.jpg

Below is relatively new streetscaping at the entrance to Edisto Memorial Gardens (view looking up the street towards downtown)...

Streetscaping.jpg

Below is the rose garden at Edisto Memorial Gardens...

Roses.jpg

Below is another city park along the Edisto River...

River.jpg

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Yeah Spartan, that pic IS pretty awesome.

As far as why there haven't been any company/industries relocating to Orangeburg County, your guess is just as good as mine. As you have stated, one of its biggest advantages is the presence of Interstates 26 and 95. And if there's one thing that the county has, it's land; 1106 square miles to be exact. Perhaps it's that the county doesn't market itself aggressively. Or it could be that the loss of several manufacturing companies over the last decade has really hurt its image, although I don't see the conditions worse there than in any other part of the state or even the country for that matter. I think it could be that other areas have bounced back quicker in reinventing themselves in other areas. For instance, Rock Hill, like many other Carolina cities, suffered greatly from the decline of the textile industry. However, Rock Hill is beginning to carve out for itself a sports-oriented niche which really increases tourism in the area (and the inclusion of York County in the Charlotte MSA doesn't hurt either). Tourism does well in Orangeburg County, but it does not account for any type of significant economic growth and development. At this point, it may not be too far-fetched for the city to attempt to imitate Greenville in attracting some high-end manufacturing industries to the area. They have the land and I believe they have the brainpower with the local colleges and universities. However, there does seem to be a glimmer of hope: in May, the area

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Great pics, UrbanSoutherner. I'm glad you posted those; now when I post mine (in the not-too-distant future), the contrast will be evident. I plan to get a lot of downtown, some of Edisto Gardens, some of the new developments on Claflin and South Carolina State campuses (mostly Claflin's), and the historic churches in the city.

You are also correct in noting that many of the stores downtown, with their small-town charm, are indeed underutilized and underdeveloped. They represent a fantastic opportunity for a complete revitalization of downtown (the streetscaping represents a great start). Many of the stores/venues downtown include clothing boutiques, a music store (I believe it's going out of business soon), BlueBird Theatre, and an educational supply store. If the city could bring some more variety, that would be cool. I'm glad that the place isn't overrun by chain companies, but a few couldn't hurt. Also, facade renovations/updates would GREATLY help. I'm thinking something along the lines of the revitalization of downtown Rome, Georgia:

Before:

03GAMSA_Rome3.jpg

After:

03GAMSA_Rome4.jpg

The old hotel represents a great opportunity for the city to turn that building either into a modern apartment building or something of a mixed-use nature.

Edited by krazeeboi

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Great pics, UrbanSoutherner. I'm glad you posted those; now when I post mine (in the not-too-distant future), the contrast will be evident. I plan to get a lot of downtown, some of Edisto Gardens, some of the new developments on Claflin and South Carolina State campuses (mostly Claflin's), and the historic churches in the city.

You are also correct in noting that many of the stores downtown, with their small-town charm, are indeed underutilized and underdeveloped. They represent a fantastic opportunity for a complete revitalization of downtown (the streetscaping represents a great start). Many of the stores/venues downtown include clothing boutiques, a music store (I believe it's going out of business soon), BlueBird Theatre, and an educational supply store. If the city could bring some more variety, that would be cool. I'm glad that the place isn't overrun by chain companies, but a few couldn't hurt. Also, facade renovations/updates would GREATLY help. I'm thinking something along the lines of the revitalization of downtown Rome, Georgia:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Rome is a great little city with a nice downtown. Another Georgia town with a great downtown is Americus (the county seat of Sumter County where Jimmy Carter's Plains is located).

Small town main street programs typically do several things like streetscaping, facade improvements, upper floor residential apartments over the first floor retail, the "right" mix of nitch businesses, and marketing with special events. Do you know if Orangeburg has facade improvements grants or low interest loans for facade improvements? I think facade improvements and upper level residential are really needed. I think Orangeburg has some of the better storefronts that I have seen in SC outside of the larger cities. A number I believe were covered over during the 1950s/1960s with the modern false facades, some of which have since been uncovered. I have seen other 1920s hotels like that one turned into everything from senior citizen housing to student housing to small hotels.

I think tying in with the universities will help downtown. I also think they could use some attraction. My idea is a "South Carolina Civil Rights Museum" - especially given that most of SC's civil rights movement activities in the 1950s and 1960s occurred in Orangeburg because of all the college students there (my graduate history studies at USC are coming back to me now). There was an article in I think the NY Times recently talking about how southern cities are raking in tourist dollars and development from heritage tourism geared towards African-American themes. Given that Orangeburg was historically one of the if not the largest majority African-American counties in SC, is home to the oldest historically black college in SC (Claflin) and the largest historically black college in SC (SC State), and all the civil rights movement history there (see http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/sc1.htm and http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/sc2.htm), it seems to me to be a "no-brainer" to use heritage tourism as an economic development tool that could help revive downtown. Tourism is a big industry these days and Orangeburg could use some new economic development strategies given the local poverty and unemployment rates.

Anyway, I hope the town can make something fall into place. I still think the city and county have to figure out a more productive economic development strategy generally (a common issue with lots of smaller cities in rural counties elsewhere).

Edited by UrbanSoutherner

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From the pictures I've seen of downtown Spartanburg, there may be some similarities between there and downtown Orangeburg in that they both run east-west and that they both have a town square. I'm not really sure what the name of Orangeburg's is, but it has a monument and a fountain in the center.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think the downtown layout and feel between Orangeburg and Spartanburg are similar, though obviously Spartanburg is larger and more prosperous with larger and newer buildings. But they both have a main street cutting across a square with a metal statue on a pedestal. The main street then angles somewhat before it continues if I am not mistaken. It is a similar layout and somewhat unique.

Otherise, Orangeburg and Spartanburg are similar in that they both have confined city limits and have fallen precipitously in the state city rankings since 1960. Both end in "burg" and have a department of public safety (merged police and fire departments). That is about all I know about the similarities.

Edited by UrbanSoutherner

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Do you know if Orangeburg has facade improvements grants or low interest loans for facade improvements? I think facade improvements and upper level residential are really needed.

You know what, I have no idea. But I could find out, as my cousin is a grants administrator for the county. I wonder if such improvements are part of a long-term strategy for downtown revitalization.

I think tying in with the universities will help downtown. I also think they could use some attraction. My idea is a "South Carolina Civil Rights Museum" - especially given that most of SC's civil rights movement activities in the 1950s and 1960s occurred in Orangeburg because of all the college students there (my graduate history studies at USC are coming back to me now).

You know what, that is an absolutely GREAT idea; I never thought of that. As a matter of fact, one of the bloodiest moments of the civil rights movement in SC occurred in Orangeburg, infamously known as the "Orangeburg Massacre." It occurred when protestors attempted to integrate Orangeburg's only bowling alley at that time. The arena on the campus of South Carolina State University is named after them. At any rate, I think that's something worth passing on to someone on city or county council or maybe even Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter or Sen. John Matthews.

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And speaking of population, Orangeburg County's population has been on a small decline since 2000, suffering a 0.5% population loss between 2000-2004. Still, it is on the verge of joining the state's 15 six-figure counties with a population of 90,000.

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I think there are pretty good things going on in Orangeburg County right now which are worthy of mention.

I think the biggest recent development is the opening of [url=http://thetandd.com/articles/2005/07/31/news/doc42ed95d09a13f983469483.txt] The campus will also be available to the community for conventions, concerts and other cultural events.

The technology center offers classes in carpentry, auto mechanics, culinary, electricity, masonry, and more. It will also have enhanced access to computer technology, allowing Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College to use the campus as a satellite.

LMHSTC.jpg

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have always thought it was so wasteful to build High School Vocational Centers and Tech SChools to serve the same communities. There had to be wasteful duplication in that. High Schools close at 3:00 and most Tech classes are at night anyway. Glad to see this community has picked up on that.

Thanks for all the posts on Oburg Krazeeboi and UrbanSoutherner. I have several college buddies that came from Oburg and I have driven through a time or two. Oburg seemed to get left behind in the prosperous '90's but seems to be getting there act together now.

I think UrbanSoutherner hit the nail on the head as to why Oburg has not prospered in the past. Past racial tensions and the struggle against poverty and a weak education system have held the area back. Most of my friends went to private schools there. I know there has been some consolidation of school districts there recently. That can only help. I think at one time they had like 7 or 8 school districts for a population of about 80,000. Compare that to one for Gville and Chas and 2.5 for Richland.

I look forward to more pictures, indeed the downtown has a lot of potential. It is also impressive that the locals passed the 7 year capital improvements local sales

tax twice. It is obviously have a positive affect.

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Concerning the public education system in the county, consolidation occurred about 8 years ago; I believe there are 4 school districts now. It is true that public education services primarily black students, at least in the city of Orangeburg. I attended elementary and middle schools in the city, but I attended high school in the town of Branchville (population roughly 1000), about 10 miles south of Orangeburg. The black/white ratio there was roughly 50/50, and was actually something of a mini-culture shock for me, only having been around other blacks for the most part up to that point.

Orangeburg is indeed the second largest county in the state, after Horry.

The private school that is located on SCSU's campus is Felton Laboratory School.

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Nice looking school. They are building a new high school (Wade Hampton) across from my workplace. It looks very similiar to some of the prisons I saw when I worked for SC Dept. of Corrections. The architecture is very cheap, prefab, and very institutional looking.

I'm glad to see that bad trend isn't occurring everywhere.

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The State has an article about how S.C. State University is attempting to solve its housing crisis--which, if truth be told, has actually been going on for a while now. The president's house will be razed to make way for a new residence hall with approximately 771 beds. Two dormitories, built in the early 1900's, will no longer house students. After those dormitories are closed, the school will have a net increase of about 500 additional beds.

About 2,200 of S.C. State's 4,700 students can be accommodated in campus housing. An additional 250 live in a privately built apartment complex, University Place, near the campus that caters to college students. However, many of the remaining students live off campus in housing that does not meet the university

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Orangeburg County is preparing to host its first ever two-day, statewide Orangeburg County Community of Character Conference scheduled for Sept. 27-28. It is a conference that is largely designed to help civic and community leaders boost overall morale within their respective regions. Topics include:

Edited by krazeeboi

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Orangeburg County is interested in expanding the Port of Charleston inland, at the I-26/I-95 interchange. Under the concept, containers from ocean liners would be loaded onto trains and shipped to the inland port, where they would be transferred from rail to trucks. The reverse would be true of exports.

This move would be seen as making the Port of Charleston more competitive with Savannah and Jacksonville (the Savannah Port had more incoming freight than the Port of Charleston for the month of July). Also, Hurricane Katrina has limited the New Orleans port's handling capabilities, resulting in overflow to Southeastern ports including the Port of Charleston.

The nature of this expansion inland, however, is something that still needs closer examination.

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I like that idea a good bit, it would increase capacity while at the same time eliminate some future truck traffic on the only interstate serving Charleston. Not to mention it could create jobs for the area.

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Most definitely. A rail line isn't exactly at the interchange, but there's a CSX line rather close in Dorchester County, so Orangeburg County would work very closely with Dorchester in this regard.

I've always wondered why there wasn't any type of development at the I 26/I 95 interchange, which lies in the eastern part of the county right outside Holly Hill. Seems like that area would have taken off YEARS ago, especially with the Santee/Lake Marion area only a few miles up 95. I guess if this inland port idea takes off, it could definitely spur some good development in that area. I sure hope so.

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