More parking to be added at West Columbia riverfront

More parking spaces are on the way to help alleviate a shortage near the West Columbia riverfront.

City officials are buying a block with five rental homes on the edge of the Mill Village. The rental homes will be demolished by late summer to provide several dozen new spaces.

It’s the second acquisition of sites to provide additional parking for people headed to walk, jog and bicycle on the Riverwalk as well as wade in the Congaree River.

Parking near the Lexington County city’s riverfront has become scarcer since construction of a $40 million residential and commercial complex started in January. The 4-acre site at Meeting and State streets was an unofficial parking lot while city officials waited a decade to settle on a project designed to spur riverfront development.

The five parcels on Hudson and Oliver streets should ease parking problems significantly, City Councilman Tem Miles said.

“It’ll be very, very close to taking care of everything,” he said.

The purchase of the homes follows the $675,000 acquisition in February of another site at Meeting and Center streets two blocks north with 100 spaces.

Another 125 spaces will be in the parking garage at the new complex when it opens in two years.

Four Mill Village homes have been bought for $600,000 so far, with the fifth in the process of being purchased, assistant city manager Michelle Dickerson said. The area is a block from Carraway Park.

Loss of the homes is bittersweet for some Mill Village residents even though the step will ease parking problems in their neighborhood.

Victoria Cartier is upset the century-old homes will be demolished if no one agrees to move them soon. “It’s a shame to lose a piece of local history,” she said.

City officials have turned down pleas to move the homes elsewhere.

“For some folks, there’s sentimental value,” Mayor Bobby Horton said. “But we have no use for them.”

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483