Columbia, SC — I certainly understand the arguments for preserving historic buildings, but given the multiple unique problems the Palmetto Compress building presents and the extensive and ultimately unsuccessful efforts the owners have made to find a way to use the property, it appears there is no viable way to preserve it short of spending millions of dollars in public money.
It appeared that the project would easily be approved by Columbia’s Design, Development Review Commission since it received a unanimous recommendation from the city planning department. But the commission completely disregarded the recommendation and denied the project by a 7-1 vote.
The group trying to save the building lobbied the commission hard to kill this project after it lost the battle to have the building named a historical landmark. While the reason for having the commission makes sense conceptually, voting against the project in the face of unanimous approval from its own planning department shows that it is completely ineffective and purely political.
If the owners of the Palmetto Compress building are smart, they will raze the building quickly so this type of political opposition will not kill the next deal to develop the property.
To maintain their credibility with me and people like me who are concerned about the interests of both sides, the historical preservationists need to get out of the way once it becomes clear that it is not feasible to preserve a building and allow the city to reap the short- and long-term benefits these types of projects bring.