on the move

Cayce’s Big Day: Back-to-back events showcase city’s growth

jholleman@thestate.comJune 28, 2013 

— The message was clear Friday as politicians and dignitaries hustled from a riverfront trail grand opening to a medical center ground breaking just a couple of miles away: Cayce is hot.

Not sweat-through-your-shirt hot – though that was the case by the end of the second event at 10:30 a.m. – but lots-going on hot.

“It says that this is the place to be,” said Cayce Mayor Elise Partin of the back-to-back events. “We have a lot going on in Cayce, and we’re thankful for that.”

The events weren’t originally scheduled on the same day, but severe thunderstorms forced Lexington Medical Center to delay its planned June 6 ground breaking for Lexington Medical Park – Otarre Point. The hospital rescheduled at 10 a.m. Friday, an hour after the long-planned grand opening of the latest section of the Cayce Riverwalk.

Partin could have ridden a bike down the trail, taken a short detour down Old State Road, and then biked up the Timmerman Trail to the hospital press conference. (She had a good excuse for taking a vehicle instead, still fighting jet lag after returning from a trip to China.) Cayce officials like to sell to business prospects the marriage of outdoor recreation and corporate activity in the area around 12th Street Extension and I-77.

SCANA, which started the growth in the area by moving its headquarters to Cayce in 2009, recognizes that trails and natural areas are good for the health of individuals and the environment. The company already has built the Timmerman Trail, which buffers Congaree Creek from the Otarre Point development. Another segment of SCANA-built trail already in the works will connect the existing trail with a planned history park and the final section of the Cayce Riverwalk still to be built.

The three-quarter-mile section of the Riverwalk that opened Friday runs from Old State Road, just south of the Riverland Park subdivision, to the Thomas Newman Boat Landing. There’s also a large parking area at each end of the new section. (Distance runners or cyclists can connect with the older portions of the Riverwalk by taking short sections of Riverland Drive and Old State Road.)

The new section is worth the winding journey to get there.

Some of the largest trees in the Midlands’ entire Three Rivers Greenway system provide all-day shade on the wide, paved trail. There are no buildings within sight for the majority of the trail. In fact, some hikers might be wary of how remote the trail is. Cayce public safety officers will patrol it routinely, and call boxes, lights and video cameras are installed along the trail.

Artist John Sharpe, not to be confused with the former Cayce city manager of the same name, showed up at the grand opening with his dog, Lulu, to check out the trail. Both seemed to enjoy the walk. “Every time they add something to the 12th Street Extension area, I say, ‘That’s new customers,’” said Sharpe, who is renovating an old building on nearby Frink Street as an art studio.

Lexington Medical Center was thinking along the same lines when it decided to expand at Otarre Point.

In addition to a primary care practice, the 70,000-square foot building will house Lexington Medical Center’s occupational health department. Hospital officials expect to draw plenty of business from the large corporations in an area that already has drawn SCANA, Amazon and Nephron Pharmaceuticals.

The corridor is home to about 4,000 workers now, and that should double or triple in the next few years, according to Lexington County Council chairman Bill Banning.

“This corridor is going to change the face of Lexington County,” Banning said.

Especially Cayce.

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