The BullStreet Neighborhood has gotten the federal OK for a storm water plan that will reduce downstream flooding and lead to development of a 20-acre city park.
The plan, which has the blessing of environmentalists, will also create a two-acre pond within the park.
Smith Branch Creek, which now flows underground in twin 84-inch culvert pipes on the property, will be brought to the surface and meander about 2,000 feet through the 181-acre former S.C. State Hospital campus.
“We hope to inspire young and old alike to appreciate nature in an urban setting and the heirloom South Carolina plants that, in turn, attract a variety of wildlife,” Robert Hughes, president of Hughes Development Corp. and the redevelopment project’s master developer, said in a news release.
BullStreet is considered the biggest land deal in modern Columbia history. Centered by a $37 million minor league baseball stadium, the development is expected to include 3.3 million square feet of retail space, up to 3,500 residences as well as office space, renovated historic buildings and a new University of South Carolina medical school.
Work on the stream is scheduled to start this summer and continue through early 2018.
The flood mitigation goes well beyond federal guidelines, the release said. For a two-year storm event, for example, it will help reduce flooding problems for downstream roadways including S.C. 277, Colonial Drive and Harden Street. Larger storm events will result in more water detained on the property.
“The daylighting and restoration of Smith Branch is an opportunity to improve an impaired urban stream and make it an asset for the community,” Bill Stangler, the Congaree Riverkeeper, said.
Rebecca Haynes, government relations director for The Conservation Voters of South Carolina and a member of the Bull Street Commission, added: “In my 10 years of work in water advocacy, the restoration of Smith Branch at BullStreet is by far the best example of a developer's clear commitment to leaving a place better than they found it. This project will set a new standard for urban stream renewal across South Carolina and the Southeast.”