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Skyscrapers are nice to have, but are not necessary to make Columbia a better city.

Save the trophy towers for Charlotte and sprAwLANTA. Columbia will have taller buildings when they are needed. You would be surprised by the number of empty condo towers in the Atlanta area that are almost completely dark at night.

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^I'm not sure what you mean by that. In terms of scale and context, it will be more comparable to Birkdale. It's not what you want to to look like at this point, it's what the developer is going to bu

That's good news! Probably see more construction this year. I accepted a job in Charlotte so i won't see Columbia grow anymore Did a last check on developments, looks like a park might be added! 

I live in a neighborhood with a large senior housing population. It's awesome. Because they don't work, they keep an eye on things during the day, and they're always out walking around and talking to

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Developer Bob Hughes has reentered negotiations with the state Department of Mental Heath to purchase the Bull Street campus. The deal was rejected in part because he didn’t offer to buy the property outright, but rather to pay the commission appraised values as sub parcels were sold, according to Mental Health Department attorney Mark Binkley. The offer also included a 50-50 profit split after Hughes recovered his development costs, he said. Binkley said the commission isn’t as interested in getting all of the money up front, as receiving guarantees that Hughes will not walk away from the deal before all of the property is sold. Hughes is the only developer who has bid on the entire campus, Binkley said. Others have shown an interest in buying sub parcels, but Binkley said the commission wants to sell all to a master developer, who will then parcel it out to other developers.

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And we're close to a sale on the property...again. Representatives of the Mental Health Department and Greenville developer Bob Hughes are “in agreement on key terms,” agency attorney Mark Binkley said last week. The two sides were close to an agreement this summer, but that effort floundered because of concerns from the Mental Health Commission about the securing of reliable revenue. If the commission approves the sale, the deal must be reviewed by a supervising court to ensure that a fair value for the property has been reached on its behalf. Should that be accepted, the state Budget and Control Board also must OK the sale.

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And we're close to a sale on the property...again. Representatives of the Mental Health Department and Greenville developer Bob Hughes are “in agreement on key terms,” agency attorney Mark Binkley said last week. The two sides were close to an agreement this summer, but that effort floundered because of concerns from the Mental Health Commission about the securing of reliable revenue. If the commission approves the sale, the deal must be reviewed by a supervising court to ensure that a fair value for the property has been reached on its behalf. Should that be accepted, the state Budget and Control Board also must OK the sale.

i saw it today in the Freetimes news paper

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An article in The State puts it in more definitive and explicit terms:

The sale of the former state mental hospital campus on Columbia’s Bull Street to Greenville developer Bob Hughes is expected within two weeks, an attorney for the S.C. Department of Mental Health said Friday...

The S.C. Mental Health Commission has approved a contract for the site’s sale negotiated by its staff attorneys and Hughes, agency attorney Mark Binkley said. Hughes now has two weeks to sign the deal.

“We anticipate he will accept it,” Binkley said. “I think we’re there.”

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And we have a deal. Bob Hughes signed a contract with the SC Department of Mental Health for the property and will become the master developer of the site. He plans to adhere to the Duany plan in principle, taking into account the current state of the market.

i saw that on WIS Today im happy! the city within the city project is finally starting

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By the time the Bull Street project is built out, the Main Street corridor and CBD will be fully utilized, the Vista will be built out, Innovista will be halfway built out, Five Points will have sprouted beyond its current valley up Harden Street, and everything will be connected, and it will be huge in this big-boned city.

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The biggest downside in my opinion is that it continues to spread out Columbia's resources. It seems difficult to attract many various things when you've got the option downtown to be in the Vista, Five Points, Main Street, or now at this campus, and none of them are connected well enough to support and complement the others. Unless the price point starts are extremely low, why would residents or retailers decide to locate here as oppose to small, already established districts?

[disclaimer: this is an opinion of a situation that I have observed :mellow: ]

I agree, while a large plot of land like this has a ton of potential, it also comes with a lot of challenges, both developmental and geographical. One of the largest challenges is what you described, there are other established areas with synergy that in my mind, are more desirable. And, geographically, this land is not connected to any of the other districts or close to the university. The Bull Street property is located on the outer limits of downtown and with a $15m price, is expensive, especially after combining the opportunity costs of capital and carrying costs. Holding this property as speculation would not be a smart move. But, on the positive side, this land is about an hour from Charlotte and the airport. With a huge number of direct flights, it could be marketed easily to companies who need direct flights such as headquarter companies. And, based on the developer's prior projects, this project should turn out nicely.

Good points (and the "spreading out" is just a consequence of being a planned capital city with a lot of downtown institutional land uses; it has its benefits, but there are a host of challenges that go along with that as well), but it should be kept in mind that if Hughes adheres to the Duany plan in principle--and he has indicated that he plans to do so--this will be a TND with a mix of uses as opposed to only being a commercial district a la Main Street, the Vista, or Five Points. That being the case, I think the most important thing is that the campus is connected to other surrounding residential neighborhoods and not necessarily other commercial districts. And that will certainly be the case, with Cottontown to the west and the Robert Mills historic neighborhood to the south. I think the development will appeal to people who like New Urbanist-type communities, but within an authentic, traditional urban setting and not at an interstate exit. It's a long-term project, so it will have time to make its case.

I don't mean to take this further off topic, but I'm genuinely curious...

I don't know that "spreading out" in Columbia's case really has that much to do with it being planned, or government. Actually, I don't think it has anything to do with that. I'm not sure how it could, actually..? Having an expansive grid has nothing to do with how you allocate your efforts to redevelop. Can you imagine where Greenville would be today if it had tried to re-do Heritage Green, Main Street, the North End/Stone Avenue, the River front, and the West End all at once? There'd be pockets of activity and no connections. You might not think it's important to have the Bull Street campus connected to any other nodes of activity, but I'd think the success of this development would hinge on that. Otherwise, it might as well be off of an interstate, because you're going to be self contained in your bubble of development and not adding to OR taking advantage of the shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities that are blocks away.

Perhaps the "planned" part isn't relative since I don't think what I'm referring to here was part of the original plans for the city. But what I'm getting at is that geographically, downtown Columbia is quite expansive due to lots of land being used, formerly and presently, for institutional purposes and having those tracts freed up for development is going to naturally contribute to a more "spread out" phenomenon. That's where the Bull Street campus and the former CCI tract (now CanalSide) in particular come into play. Due to the layout of downtown, it's not feasible for the city to say, "Let's sit on these tracts and promote their redevelopment when activity naturally spreads to those areas." Due to their physical separation, that would be like making all of downtown one big entertainment district which is not realistic or feasible whatsoever. Furthermore, the type of developments in Greenville that the Bull Street campus comes closest to approximating are Griffin Park and Verdae, neither of which are connected to any of the entertainment/commercial districts in Greenville. As I stated, the Bull Street campus will be a traditional neighborhood development, not a commercial district, nightlife district, or museum district. So what's most important here is that it's connected to existing traditional neighborhoods--which it is. That will ensure a seamless connection to the existing urban fabric downtown. Just like traditional urban neighborhoods don't need to be immediately connected to an entertainment district to be successful, neither will this project need to be. Columbia already has traditional urban neighborhoods like Shandon and Rosewood that have their own restaurants, retail, and shops that cater to the more day-to-day needs of their residents (like this development will), but that doesn't restrict those residents from patronizing the entertainment and commercial districts like Five Points and the Vista. And let's not forget that this is a long-range project. We're talking full build-out in 20 years or more.

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I'm really excited to see how this developer plans to phase this project. This will be another piece that hopefully helps development move from this end of Harden towards Five Points. I think development will naturally move towards each other from those areas and Harden will be a key player in the next 10-15 years.

Is there any hope that the street grid south of this project will be extended up towards Colonial Drive in some form or fashion?

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Furthermore, the type of developments in Greenville that the Bull Street campus comes closest to approximating are Griffin Park and Verdae, neither of which are connected to any of the entertainment/commercial districts in Greenville. As I stated, the Bull Street campus will be a traditional neighborhood development, not a commercial district, nightlife district, or museum district. So what's most important here is that it's connected to existing traditional neighborhoods--which it is. That will ensure a seamless connection to the existing urban fabric downtown. Just like traditional urban neighborhoods don't need to be immediately connected to an entertainment district to be successful, neither will this project need to be. Columbia already has traditional urban neighborhoods like Shandon and Rosewood that have their own restaurants, retail, and shops that cater to the more day-to-day needs of their residents (like this development will), but that doesn't restrict those residents from patronizing the entertainment and commercial districts like Five Points and the Vista. And let's not forget that this is a long-range project. We're talking full build-out in 20 years or more.

I understand all of that. Maybe this is a Greenville thing, however, if this same project were to take place in Greenville's North End (along Stone Avenue, let's say), a HUGE selling point would be its proximity to other attractions in downtown Greenville. I mean, if you're looking to live there, then there's a reason. Location probably has a great amount to do with that. You want to be downtown. You want to have access of some kind to its offerings... Otherwise, why not find a greenfield TND in the northeast or anywhere else in the metro that they might exist? There's an underlying reason why you'd buy into it. And, I DON'T think it's so you can be secluded and isolated in your own pocket on downtown's fringe. Thus, utilize the services and offerings that already exist, as to not duplicate what's a block away. Promote the seamless transition from on and off this property. No one is going to say, I bought my house in the Bull Street project because it's NOT connected to Main Street. Something about it's proximity to their work, or entertainment options, or SOMETHING is going to entice them. Someone may choose to live in Verdae because of its proximity to CU-ICAR, or the planned BRT to downtown, or the interstate, but it's not ONLY because of what's INSIDE the development. Everything planned for inside is great and can enhance that experience, but it's not the only reason. Thus, establishing connections outside the development is a big deal, I personally think. Not just connections to residential, but to a greater array of things. For a City that currently has connection challenges with what's already there, how can I reasonably look at this important (as I see it) connection and not think that it's going to be problematic..?

Does this make sense? I'm having a hard time trying to describe what I'm getting at.

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I have to say that I'm somewhat confused here, as it sounds like you're saying that any regular neighborhood in and around downtown that's not immediately connected to an entertainment or commercial district is essentially worthless. I don't think that's what you're trying to get at but that almost seems to be where you're headed. It should be understood that just being located downtown is a selling point. Living in a traditional urban neighborhood has appeal in and of itself. While I don't consider them to be genuinely urban due to their context, this explains why greenfield TND developments are so popular. People simply enjoy the walkability of the neighborhood and the sense of community that such a quality inspires--along with the newness. And with the Bull Street campus, those who have an appreciation of history will enjoy being in a neighborhood with some of the most historic structures in the city having been adaptively reused for community purposes, along with being adjacent to the Robert Mills historic neighborhood which contains most of the historic house museums in the city. So people who enjoy those things in a neighborhood will be drawn to the Bull Street campus, and being in relatively close proximity to all of downtown's offerings, or their job downtown, or USC, or the neighborhood's location within a solid school district, are just added benefits; aside from the age of the neighborhood, it would be no different than living in Shandon or Rosewood. Furthermore, such offerings do not have to be right next door to be accessible. A 15-20 minute walk, a 7-8 minute bike ride, or a 2-3 minute drive is pretty accessible. The Vista and Five Points are full of people who live in or close to downtown but not in adjacent neighborhoods.

Earlier, you stated that you think that the success of this project hinges on it being immediately connected to an entertainment district instead of other traditional neighborhoods. Again, I point to the success of greenfield TND developments, as well as other infill TND projects that have enjoyed huge success without being adjacent to an entertainment district. As far as the latter, two that I have direct, firsthand experience with are Glenwood Park in Atlanta and Southside in Greensboro. They are genuine traditional neighborhoods that include some office, retail, and restaurant use, but their object is not to be another commercial/entertainment district or compete with the ones that already exist within the city. They only seek to be complete, well-rounded residential neighborhoods that are integrated into the existing urban fabric and they succeed. That is the goal of the Bull Street campus.

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Columbia's being a planned city has everything to do with the fact that its grid is so expansive. Most cities started as a crossroads and grew from the crossroads outward. Columbia was planned as a grid on a plateau to take the place of a 200-acre plantation before anyone ever set foot in the city and in later years built outward from that footprint. Everything will grow together as all of the energy emerging from the rebirth of a huge downtown turns into more synergy at every corner of the grid and everywhere in between to include all the current nodes of activity, which by the way are already all connected by sidewalks. As I said a few posts ago, by the time Bull Street is built out, so will the other areas be. As all the areas are built out and overflow into each other, people will come here to see what a real city feels like, because as far as urban contiguity and pedestrian presence over a large area are concerned, it will be the closest thing to a northeastern U.S. city the South has to offer. Also, by the time the areas are all built out, a good bus system will be in place to move people. In Washington, D.C., DuPont Circle, downtown D.C., Capitol Hill, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, Logan Circle, etc., etc. don't all sit along the same spine and aren't next to each other. They are scattered far and wide and don't compete with each other but rather are large parts of a huge whole. Public transportation (and sidewalks) connect all those neighborhoods. Columbia's day as a city teaming with people over a huge area is coming. Already, even on the less traveled spots of the grid, you see glimpses of the future in regard to a pedestrian presence.

Edited by CorgiMatt
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There's a major wording problem or comprehension issue going on here...

A 15-20 minute walk, a 7-8 minute bike ride, or a 2-3 minute drive is pretty accessible. The Vista and Five Points are full of people who live in or close to downtown but not in adjacent neighborhoods.

:blink: EXACTLY! It's a very accessible location. That's NEVER been disputed. It's the whole point of my posts that this accessibility should be played up and increased. Thus, I think investing in those walking, and biking routes is important. Never have I suggested that it needs to be RIGHT on top of everything, but I do think the connections need to exist. (btw, the word connection doesn't indicate a distance, but rather a means-- is that where some misunderstanding is?)

And, yes, I do believe that these connections to the larger picture are critical early on for this development. Retail won't be able to be support for years-- simply put, the population won't be there. And, until then it's going to be a car-dependent development. So, YEA, I think good, solid, SAFE walking and biking connections to entertainment districts (DESPITE the distance or route) needs to be in place.

This is what I've been saying the entire time. Is it any more clear now? :dontknow:

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Columbia's being a planned city has everything to do with the fact that its grid is so expansive.

Duh? :huh:

My original post speaking about having the City having its resources spread far and wide has more to do with the Columbia trying to tackle so much all at once. Instead of really excelling in one area or FINISHING one project before another one starts, the City of Columbia has been dabbling in a project here and there for years. It's like there's an ADD problem within the Mayor's office. So, I said that, and then Krazee tried to tell me that this exists because of Columbia being planned and having such a large grid. Sorry, but how your streets were laid out hundreds of years ago has NOTHING to do with how the City manages those streets today, and disperses its resources among them.

For those same reasons, the grid itself isn't going to promote a great/lively urban city to emerge without proper planning, and strategy. You're not bound to emulate DC just because both cities were laid out... But, YES, the bones for great things ARE there. You just need to hold your leaders accountable and help promote projects and details that will get you there. :thumbsup:

Edited by GvilleSC
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Each district is developing fine. It's not like there's a deadline by which they each have to have any certain level of activity going on. The Bull Street development will complement the other areas well. I would hate to think that area would have to sit and deteriorate further while we waited on the CBD to expand eastward and someday overflow across Bull. I like watching each area of the city doing its own thing. The approach may be different and set the city up for criticism from people who live in cities where their leaders started redeveloping from the center and are working outward, but the redevelopment of each city is a good thing and in the end will result in urban centers as large as the cities' infrastructure will allow. The bigger the bones the larger the frock.

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Duh? :huh:

My original post speaking about having the City having its resources spread far and wide has more to do with the Columbia trying to tackle so much all at once. Instead of really excelling in one area or FINISHING one project before another one starts, the City of Columbia has been dabbling in a project here and there for years. It's like there's an ADD problem within the Mayor's office. So, I said that, and then Krazee tried to tell me that this exists because of Columbia being planned and having such a large grid. Sorry, but how your streets were laid out hundreds of years ago has NOTHING to do with how the City manages those streets today, and disperses its resources among them.

For those same reasons, the grid itself isn't going to promote a great/lively urban city to emerge without proper planning, and strategy. You're not bound to emulate DC just because both cities were laid out... But, YES, the bones for great things ARE there. You just need to hold your leaders accountable and help promote projects and details that will get you there. :thumbsup:

You may be partly right. But, the one large challenge facing Columbia is that the city has entities which are huge assets but also present other challenges. The state government owned this land and played a large part in how and when it was sold. If I am in city government, I would not spend a lot city assets working to connect this development when the state may decide to sell or not to sell. It is a hard position to play that is unique to Columbia. Now that a developer has come forward, the city should begin working to incorporate this into the fabric of Columbia. In time, this project should accelerate a connection to other parts of the city. The landowners around this development, especially the ones between Main St. and Bull are lottery winners. This project has an opportunity to be a great development for companies that want to be in an urban setting but also want quick access to interstates and air travel. Within a couple of redlights, anyone in this project is on 277 and within an hour drive of the only airport in the Carolinas that has a meaningful number of nonstop flights.

As far as living downtown, I think people live close in due to many reasons. Some are related to the proximity to attractions, to reduce drive times, others just do not want the suburban lifestyle. This project could serve both demographics easily. The good thing about a diverse city is that there is no one development style or pattern and options are available. This project will provide options for those who want to be close in but, without the noise of living on Main St, The Vista or Five Points.

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You may be partly right. But, the one large challenge facing Columbia is that the city has entities which are huge assets but also present other challenges. The state government owned this land and played a large part in how and when it was sold. If I am in city government, I would not spend a lot city assets working to connect this development when the state may decide to sell or not to sell. It is a hard position to play that is unique to Columbia. Now that a developer has come forward, the city should begin working to incorporate this into the fabric of Columbia. In time, this project should accelerate a connection to other parts of the city. The landowners around this development, especially the ones between Main St. and Bull are lottery winners. This project has an opportunity to be a great development for companies that want to be in an urban setting but also want quick access to interstates and air travel. Within a couple of redlights, anyone in this project is on 277 and within an hour drive of the only airport in the Carolinas that has a meaningful number of nonstop flights.

Completely agree. There's no need to have had it connected before. But now is the time!

And, at the same time, continue the de-thugging of Five Points, connect the Vista to Main Street, and continue the redevelopment of Main Street. There's a lot that needs to be done, but it CAN be. It just needs the right leadership and focus. That remains to be seen. It's not worth doing a half-ass job just to finish. It needs to be done well! :thumbsup: And, COLUMBIA can. :thumbsup:

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Completely agree. There's no need to have had it connected before. But now is the time!

And, at the same time, continue the de-thugging of Five Points, connect the Vista to Main Street, and continue the redevelopment of Main Street. There's a lot that needs to be done, but it CAN be. It just needs the right leadership and focus. That remains to be seen. It's not worth doing a half-ass job just to finish. It needs to be done well! :thumbsup: And, COLUMBIA can. :thumbsup:

You're basically agreeing with what everyone says... This district will have connections with this project built. I don't see how what you said contributed to any discussion of this topic or Columbia at all. I'm sorry if that sounds rude.

We have been saying that these areas, including Bull Street, are forming their connections to each other naturally and they did not have to exist before and you disagreed and said that they should have connections in place before. Then you go to say that now is the time to make connections... which is what we said this project will help do. The city is working to do all that I quoted you saying that Columbia should do.

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You're basically agreeing with what everyone says... This district will have connections with this project built. I don't see how what you said contributed to any discussion of this topic or Columbia at all. I'm sorry if that sounds rude.

We have been saying that these areas, including Bull Street, are forming their connections to each other naturally and they did not have to exist before and you disagreed and said that they should have connections in place before. Then you go to say that now is the time to make connections... which is what we said this project will help do. The city is working to do all that I quoted you saying that Columbia should do.

Well, thanks, buddy! :unsure:

Simply put, IMO, Columbia has problems making connections. There's varying factors as to why, admittedly. When there's need to make connections and establish them in other parts of downtown already, adding to that list seems like a problem to me. That's how this whole discussion got started, before some people somehow started saying that no connections were needed to any entertainment districts because this project is TND and will be vitally connected to residential areas.

If you're fine with waiting 30 years for this project to build out before connections are established, that's fine! You said so in your post. Congrats! I'm only advocating for the connections to be established as the first steps of progress on the development take place.

Only time will tell, but I'll cite Main Street as an example of how slow it can take for the wheels to turn. It doesn't matter to me how Columbia does it. Comments are never taken well in this forum. No surprise there... The hyper-sensitivity to all things Columbia is what wrongly got that started in the Greenville forum.

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Well, thanks, buddy! :unsure:

Simply put, IMO, Columbia has problems making connections. There's varying factors as to why, admittedly. When there's need to make connections and establish them in other parts of downtown already, adding to that list seems like a problem to me. That's how this whole discussion got started, before some people somehow started saying that no connections were needed to any entertainment districts because this project is TND and will be vitally connected to residential areas.

If you're fine with waiting 30 years for this project to build out before connections are established, that's fine! You said so in your post. Congrats! I'm only advocating for the connections to be established as the first steps of progress on the development take place.

Only time will tell, but I'll cite Main Street as an example of how slow it can take for the wheels to turn. It doesn't matter to me how Columbia does it. Comments are never taken well in this forum. No surprise there... The hyper-sensitivity to all things Columbia is what wrongly got that started in the Greenville forum.

Let's address this "hyper-sensitivity" thing for a minute since I have been accused of the same. Each person who posts on this board has a higher degree of pride in their city because we are interested in development. So, when you and others from Greenville posts comments that point out deficiencies (every city has them) with other cities and then respond how Greenville is doing it better (I guess noone in the Carolinas does anthing right except Greenville), it is only natural to get a response. Your comment about Greenville beating Charlotte and that I would not understand is a perfect example. The funny thing is that when others say bad things of Greenville, they are branded and asked not to post anylonger, that happens on this site as well as others. Not being the best typer, I had a typo when responding to a Greenville comment and my spelling was attacked not from a Cola person but from someone in Greenville, perhaps the Greenville responder was a little sensitive to what I wrote. There are even individuals from Greenville that have made it a mission to bash everything in Columbia even bringing up a person dying to try and make Caroina and Columbia look bad, how low is that? So, I don't think anyone is being "sensitive" but, have just seen this happen with a high degree of frequency. If you can't handle a response, don't post.

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See the Main Street Development thread for Mayor Benjamin's comments about the need for Columbia to connect its downtown districts. We've got it covered. Some might have thought Benjamin would be focused only on issues that deal with improving peripheral neighborhoods, but he is keenly focused on downtown Columbia, both the CBD and the other areas of downtown. One of the major issues the city and community at large focused on regarding the State Hospital property was the importance of connecting it to the existing fabric of Columbia. We've got it covered.

(People who live to bash Columbia yet say they "hope" Columbia can connect its hot spots might want to be careful what they wish for.)

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