Columbia, SC — I expect the data are correct in the economic impact study about the Bull Street development, and I believe that Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce’s Ike McLeese are doing what they feel is in the best interest of our city and our citizens.
It is because of the respect I have for both men that I am hesitant to raise what I believe is a significant problem: the 3:1 ratio of rental to owner-occupied housing. A neighborhood of this scope has to have citizens with skin in the game, who are in it for the long haul and will work to grow and develop the neighborhood in a positive manner.
Most of us have been renters at one time or another and may be again, but I don’t see a lot of owners putting down roots with this rental ratio. I know I wouldn’t do it, and I suspect neither the mayor nor Mr. McLeese lives in neighborhoods with anything close to that rental-to-owner-occupied ratio. With property taxes on rental property significantly higher than owner-occupied housing, I can see where the city and county might consider this a windfall opportunity. I hope that is not part of what makes this so appealing, because that would prove extremely shortsighted for a project we all hope will be the beginning of a new neighborhood that people will return to in 50 years to show their children where they grew up.
I believe the better ratio on housing would be reversed.