Two Midlands lawmakers have introduced a bill they say would help lower the cost to develop the Bull Street property in downtown Columbia.
The bill would offer a 25 percent state income tax credit to developers who spend at least $500,000 to develop a building that has been abandoned for at least five years. Developers then can sell those tax credits for profit to large corporations.
The bill, sponsored by state Reps. James Smith, D-Richland, and Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, is similar to a bill introduced last year that would have applied only to abandoned government buildings. That bill failed because developers were worried it would give former government buildings an unfair redevelopment advantage over private buildings.
This bill would apply to any building with at least two-thirds of its space abandoned for five years. It only would apply for commercial projects, which would include apartment complexes. And it would cover developers who want to remodel a building or demolish it to build a new structure.
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But Smith said he is not worried about the tax credit leading to the demolition of historic structures, noting the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation supports the bill.
Smith said developers of historic buildings could use the tax credit with an existing tax credit for historic structures.
The Bull Street property – 181 acres off Bull Street in downtown Columbia – once was owned by the state Department of Mental Health. It is home to a number of historic buildings that have been abandoned for years.
Greenville developer Bob Hughes is working on a plan to develop the property that calls for up to 3,550 residences, commercial development and possibly a baseball park.