On March 6, Columbia City Council affirmed the progress being made within the BullStreet District by extending its development agreement with Hughes Development Corporation. The agreement, which specifies commitments both parties have made in the partnership, comes up for renewal every five years.
“We had a collective vision for the largest undeveloped tract of urban land east of the Mississippi,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “What we envisioned five years ago we now see with our eyes. For the first time in decades, the land has been reconnected to our citizens, and they have embraced it. Columbia, South Carolina and the Midlands have much more to look forward to in BullStreet. I encourage everyone to stay tuned.”
“The original development agreement anticipated a build out over 20 years. In many ways we are ahead of schedule,” said Robert Hughes, president of Hughes Development Corporation. “We have met or exceeded all of our commitments to each other and will continue to do so, including buying more land from the Department of Mental Health than the timetable called for and saving nine historic structures so far, four more than anticipated in the original agreement,” Hughes said.
“The collaboration among our team, city council and staff, the BullStreet Commission and many others is making an exceedingly complex project work. We appreciate the city’s continued support and thank everyone in Columbia for trusting us with such a special and unique piece of the city,” he said.
The BullStreet District is starting to gain national attention from influential destination publications, including Thrillist Travel, which highlighted the BullStreet District as a major factor in positioning Columbia, S.C., as “one of 8 American cities making big improvements in 2018.”
The February 2018 issue of Delta Airlines’ in-flight magazine, Sky, featured the BullStreet District prominently, quoting Hughes: “Columbia is open for business, and increasingly finding itself on the national stage. Being the first urban gigabit community in the state is a major draw for companies. We can provide infrastructure and services at BullStreet that have never been provided before.”
Among the milestones of the first five years:
- More than 674,000 fans have attended Fireflies baseball games or special events at Spirit Communications Park, which was recognized as the top Minor League Baseball park in the country.
- More than half of the 181 acres has transitioned from State of S.C. ownership and is now owned by private developers and the city.
- The largest private office building built in Columbia since 2009, the First Base Building, is now home to beautiful, modern offices for hundreds of employees of global tech giant Capgemini, law firm Ogletree Deakins and Founders Federal Credit Union.
- BullStreet becamethe first urban gigabit community in South Carolina, providing internet 100 times faster than standard broadband, which is critical to providing the best technology for businesses and residents of the district.
- Vertical construction has begun on TownPark at BullStreet, 28 three-story luxury townhomes, and work soon will begin on Merrill Gardens, the 196-unit upscale retirement community.
- The iconic Babcock Building is under contract for historic renovation into apartments.
- Land has been set aside for the new University of South Carolina Health Sciences Campus, which will employ an estimated 1,000 people.
- The 20-acre public park and pond with a daylighted Smith Branch Creek is under construction with completion date scheduled for late summer.
- Downtown Church is renovating the Central Energy Facility, opening in late 2018.
- Bone-In Barbeque, the site’s first restaurant, is scheduled to open in March.
- Parker Annex, one of the nine historic buildings saved so far, is fully leased, allowing families to work hands-on ith archaeological artifacts from the S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources’ new Heritage Trust program.
- Another historic building, the Bakery, home to SOCO, won the Adaptive Use Preservation Award from Historic Columbia.
- More than two miles of new underground utilities and more than one mile of new roadways have been put in.