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Nice article in The State about Hughes's overall goals for the Bull Street campus. Bull Street “has to be authentic to Columbia, and then it will be accepted by Columbia,” Hughes said. “I don’t know what that is yet. But the market knows what it is.”

Hughes hasn’t begun to nail down the details of his vision for the property. But he said the “place” he wants to create would be a walkable, urban neighborhood of offices, stores and homes that generally matches the spirit of the plan created for Bull Street in 2005 by Miami developer and New Urbanism guru Andres Duany. One major adjustment to the plan, Hughes said, would preclude the hundreds of condominiums called for in Duany’s plan. It is nearly impossible to get a loan to build condos because of the crash in the housing market. And Columbia is saturated with condos anyway. While Hughes has not mapped out the first phase of what will be a multi-phase project – perhaps over two decades – he said apartments would be suitable now, as well as senior housing. Those residents would also need some basic retail services: a coffee shop, dry cleaners, maybe a grocery store.

The biggest challenge, on a parcel of property that has numerous challenges, is the preservation of several huge historic buildings. The most daunting of those is the 200,000-square-foot Babcock Building, with its signature red cupola. Its roof has collapsed and its interior is a wreck, but Hughes believes that it is central to the success of the development. He even is contemplating an edict that no building could be tall enough to mask the cupola.

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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 brought Andres Duany back to update the original plan for the campus to reflect changing market realities. The updated plan will likely be heavy on retail and apartments and feature a central Main Street, but still preserve up to a dozen historic buildings and embrace the property’s wide variety of stately trees. Hughes hinted that the development could have as much as 200,000 square feet of retail. Duany said he would like to see a Target as an anchor. He added that the Babcock Building would make a great hotel, but said in the Columbia market it might work best if converted to government offices.

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A team of designers has spent the past week tweaking plans for the Bull Street campus. Here are some of the options they propose for the property that is critical to downtown’s redevelopment:

• Building a minor league baseball park

• Turning the Babock Building into a hotel

• Adding “big box” retailers as anchors, along with small offices and other stores

• Building apartments instead of condos

• Developing a large park and pond on Smith Branch creek

Andres Duany said, surprisingly, developers “had almost lined up” to do the Babcock Building and turn it into a hotel, seniors housing or government offices. “It’s big enough you could do two of those three,” he said. He said a lack of work at the moment, low labor prices and state and federal tax credits for renovation of historic buildings made the project doable for the developers.

As for the ballpark, Bob Hughes said he had talked to “some baseball people” informally about landing a minor league team, but nothing concrete has emerged yet.

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As much as I dislike big box retailers, having some in town would be huge for Columbia. Charlotte's midtown area is a good (not great) example of how it can be successful in a more urban format.

I'm not sold on the minor league ballpark idea because I'm not sure that any minor league team could compete with Carolina. I understand that everyone is not a Gamecocks fan, but Columbia didn't really support the Bombers so I'd like to see something that shows the city could support such a thing. Also, what becomes of the old ballpark on Assembly?

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I like the idea of a ballpark. I think more Columbians have embraced baseball with the success of USC's team, so a minor league team should do well. Capital City stadium is in a bad location and is kind of run down. Perhaps that property could be utilized for railroad relocations along Assembly, removing some at grade crossings.

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Greenville developer Bob Hughes on Monday was granted an extension of his Dec. 14 deadline to reach a redevelopment agreement with the city of Columbia for the 165-acre central campus of the old State Hospital Campus on Bull Street. The delay is needed in part, he said, to try to land a minor-league baseball team for the city.

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I question the demand for 3,500 homes in that area. Governor's Hill was slow to fill up and I think still isn't completely full. Canalside has been slow too, albeit it was impacted by the recession. Which schools will serve this area? That has a big henderence with convincing people to buy in Elmwood Park when I lived there many years ago.

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I question the demand for 3,500 homes in that area. Governor's Hill was slow to fill up and I think still isn't completely full. Canalside has been slow too, albeit it was impacted by the recession. Which schools will serve this area? That has a big henderence with convincing people to buy in Elmwood Park when I lived there many years ago.

It's a 20-year plan and cities are just beginning to be the place to be again in the big scheme of things. No one is going to build mansions and luxurious penthouses anymore. Prices will be determined by the market.

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I think that there is demand for a truly urban product in South Carolina. You can look at what is being done in other parts of downtown as an example of that. IMO, if the economy was stronger we would see even more success with an urban product.

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The disputed rezoning of the Bull Street property received a qualified first approval Tuesday night from Columbia City Council.

The 6-0 vote came after a two-hour public hearing in which council heard resident after resident express concern that the proposed rezoning plan cedes too much control of the property to Hughes Development Corp. of Greenville. Councilman Daniel Rickenmann did not attend because he is on vacation.

Despite developer Bob Hughes’ assurances that City Council, the Planning Commission or the city’s planning and development staff would retain control over the big construction decisions in the 181-acre neighborhood, council gave Hughes the first of two votes with conditions:

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The Columbia Planning Commission on Monday deferred city councilman Moe Baddourah’s request for landmark status for nine historic buildings on the Bull Street campus, saying the way he presented them was “haphazard and disjointed.” Baddourah made the request 10 days ago unexpectedly and did so without consulting the current or potential owners of the campus. Landmark status would mean City Council would have to give approval before a building could be razed. Critics have said the move could jeopardize deal.
 
Then on Monday, without explanation, Baddourah deferred five of those requests, withdrew one and left three on the agenda, to the bafflement of Planning Commission members. The city’s Design Development Review Commission is set to consider the request for landmark status Thursday.
 
In a statement sent to The State after the meeting, Baddourah said he was trying to open a public discussion on historic preservation at the site and prevent a repeat of the Palmetto Compress controversy. But landmark status for the buildings, if approved by the city, could threaten a pending sale, according to an attorney for Mental Health. Mark Binkley told the commission that Baddourah’s approach could adversely impact negotiations between Hughes and the city.
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