As part of ongoing projects to revitalize Richland County’s Decker Boulevard, the demolition of a shuttered former bank building on Decker Boulevard got underway Monday, bringing a fresh face to a prominent intersection in a vibrant community.
Known as Richland County’s International Corridor, Decker Boulevard is home to a variety of culturally diverse businesses that represent nations from around the world. The vacant bank building – located at the high-profile intersection of Trenholm Road and Decker Boulevard – has been a source of community concern for years.
“This corner serves as the gateway to Decker Boulevard, Richland County's International Corridor,” said Richland County Councilman Jim Manning, District 8, who led efforts to raze the building. “The removal of the old boarded-up bank is yet another milestone in our revitalization efforts.”
The structure is located in Richland County Council District 3, represented by Councilman Damon Jeter, who also attended the event. The demolition of the bank building falls in line with the County’s Master Plan to rejuvenate the Decker Boulevard corridor, most of which is part of Manning’s District 8.
The Decker Boulevard Master Plan, which was adopted by Richland County Council in 2007, includes addressing residents’ concerns about the appearance of buildings and creating sites that are feasible for future development and beautification efforts. This was the goal of a large mural commissioned by the County for the side of the Staples Building. Depicting the unity of ethnicities that call the area home, the mural was unveiled at a special Decker Boulevard block party in November.
No development plans are currently set for the site of the former bank, but the demolition is viewed as a major step toward improvement.
To help spur redevelopment of the old bank site, Richland County’s Building and Planning departments worked with the property owner to put the razing process in motion. Corley Construction was awarded the bid for the project, which costs a total of $37,660, including $30,000 for asbestos inspections and removal.
“I think all parties involved have been interested in the redevelopment of this site for what it would do to revitalize this active corridor and community, which is a major goal of the area’s Master Plan,” said Richland County Planning Director Tracy Hegler. “Removal of the building, for which refurbishing may have been an impediment to redevelopment, will hopefully attract business to this high-profile corner.”
In addition to the Decker Boulevard area, several other abandoned properties have recently been removed by Richland County, making a clean slate for future progress in other communities. Three properties on Cabin Creek Road were removed and the demolition of the commercial building at 3009 Bluff Road is in progress, with the razing of 3001 Bluff Road soon to follow. The building at 3819 Farrow Road also is slated for demolition.
In implementing another Richland County Master Plan for Trenholm Acres and Newcastle, adopted in 2010, the County removed more than two dozen dilapidated and unsafe manufactured homes and other buildings in the former Columbia Mobile Home Park on Shakespeare Road.
But Monday, the focus was on Decker Boulevard.
“This was a great cooperative effort with the state, the County, the business community and the neighborhood,” Manning said.
Joining Manning and Jeter at the event were State Rep. Beth Bernstein, whose House District 78 includes the area, and several community members and school officials.
Neighborhood representative Ron Huff addressed the positive impact the removal of the old bank will have on Decker Boulevard’s surrounding communities and Sylvia Hanna, founder and president of the Decker Boulevard Business Coalition, spoke about the importance of a healthy business environment in the area.
“We hope Decker Boulevard will be a destination point in which we can showcase our businesses and draw more businesses to this area,” Hanna said.
Construction crews intend to have the site completely cleared by the end of next week, weather permitting.