Editorial: Way to go, folks at City Hall
The people who occupy the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center should be congratulated for some progressive thinking regarding the redevelopment and revitalization of downtown Clinton.
They aren’t sitting around waiting for some Main Street magic. They have taken the bull by the horns and the results are there for everyone to see (and more to come).
The progress really began when the Clinton Economic Development Corporation purchased the building at the corner of Main and North Broad (the old Lawrence Young building) using a grant from the city – with the blessing of city council.
The CEDC sold the building to Greenville-based Homes of Hope, a group that has built those very attractive houses on Hwy. 308 just down from our office.
Homes of Hope will repay the CEDC over 30 years at an interest rate of 2%. The group is also spending $850,000 rehabbing the old building. The top floor will contain three apartments – two 2-bedroom apartments and one 1-bedroom studio apartment.
The apartments will be rented at market rate with an eye toward young professionals, college professors or pharmacy students.
The ground floor will contain three retail spaces.
The building will be restored to its original appearance with modern improvements and should be ready for occupants by late spring or early summer.
Homes of Hope is paying full property taxes and the value of the property will only increase.
Next, city staff took aim at the building next to the McDonald’s property lot (facing South Broad Street). The building was owned by the Roth family and was on the verge of having to be torn down after the roof collapsed.
The Roths had no choice really, but that would have left a grass lot with no real use.
The city found David Bagwell – a local contractor – who was interested in owning the building and locating his office there. City Council gave the CEDC a $20,000 grant and the Roths donated the building to the CEDC.
Bagwell bought the building for $20,000 loaned to him by the CEDC. He must meet very specific benchmarks within a year and, if he does, the $20,000 loan will be forgiven. If he fails to meet the construction benchmarks, he must repay the money.
Bagwell is going to spend about $60,000 of his own money in addition to the $20,000 loan.
When the work is done, the city will get increased property taxes and utility payments.
Finally on the downtown development horizon is the redevelopment of the former Industrial Supply buildings – there are seven of them including an old gas station – owned by four people.
City staffers came up with a concept to make the historic buildings more viable for retail business. The plan caught the eye of the SC Municipal Association, which gave the city a $25,000 grant for architects and more formal planning.
City officials think a developer (several have already expressed interest) can cobble together enough state and federal tax credits to end up spending only pennies on every rehab dollar spent.
The city has been criticized for focusing on downtown while ignoring other vital retail areas. But downtown is the heartbeat. Downtown is Clinton.
And forward thinking by the people we pay to manage our city is proving they are worth every dollar.