Visitors to the renovated Township auditorium who have long complained about inadequate parking may get the relief they’ve been seeking – as many as 310 spaces.
The concerthall’s board and Richland County have finalized a $1.4 million purchase of six lots and empty buildings that surround the increasingly popular venue on Taylor Street downtown.
Combined with a lot purchased a few years ago at the corner of Barnwell and Blanding streets, the auditorium could gain between 230 to 310 surface parking spaces, Township board chairman Drew Theodore said Thursday.
Precise plans for the parking spaces are not finalized. A board committee is to come up with a proposal within about three months, Theodore said.
“We have no other complaints anymore, except parking,” he said, referring to upgrades in 2010 that vastly improved the 1930s-era, county-owned auditorim. “People just don’t feel comfortable walking there” from blocks away, especially women who attend events alone, Theodore said.
The county’s $12 million renovation of its facility seven years ago included a larger, better lobby, improved concession stands and new restrooms on each level. For performers, the upgrade quadrupled the size of dressing room space and provided better lighting and sound systems.
The property purchase completed March 24 is for five parcels along Taylor Street: 1713, 1717, 1719, 1725 and 1735, Theodore said. Additionally, the county bought 1607 Barnwell St.
The only property along the 1600 block of Barnwell Street still in use and not part of the purchase is the building owned by the Johnson Toal & Battiste law firm, at 1615 Barnwell, Theodore said. The firm has been unwilling to sell the property, the board chairman said.
Of the six parcels purchased, only the building at 1719 might not be demolished, Theodore said.
The new lots will be landscaped in line with city ordinances, he said. “The board really is concerned. They want to keep a lot of greenery.”
Those lots will make room for 150 to 200 spaces, while the lot at Barnwell and Blanding could yield 80 to 110 spaces, Theodore said.
Since the grand reopening seven years ago, Township attendees have been treated to shows that once would have bypassed Columbia.
International singing star Tony Bennett inaugurated the new auditorium. This spring, comedian Jerry Seinfeld performed to a sellout crowd. Among the other attractions have been classic rock shows by Chicago, Crosby Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan, Earth Wind and Fire as well as rapper DMX and electronic dance music producer, singer, songwriter Skrillex.