2005-12-16 / Business

Big plans for Bull

Charles Cole discloses Bull Street plan
By John Temple Ligon

Charles Cole    Photos by Warner MontgomeryCharles Cole Photos by Warner Montgomery

Retiring from a banking career with Wachovia, Charles Cole volunteered some time for the design and development of the Bull Street property, the 178 acres recently dedicated to improvements in mental health. SC Attorney General Henry McMaster offered his official opinion that the sale of the property should benefit mental health, as was intended when it was donated almost two centuries ago.

Cole spoke to the Columbia Rotary Club Monday, December 12, at lunchtime. He was quick to rattle off some statistics to get the crowd oriented: 500,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,300 residential units. Additional permanent jobs would come in at 1,161. Over an eight–year phase–in, $405 million in new construction, eventually spinning off $9.5 million in new property taxes.

He invited attention to a master plan displayed on an easel, where the commercial development on Harden Street could be seen. Large house lots on Colonial Drive and the retail setting on Bull Street were also rendered.

Bull Street master plan – Calhoun Street is at the bottom.Bull Street master plan – Calhoun Street is at the bottom. The master plan was composed by architect Andres Duany of the Miami–based Duany Plater–Zyberk & Co. firm, the people who gained fame from their Seaside, FL, project 20 years ago. Seaside was the backdrop for the Jim Carrey film, The Truman Show.

With a healthy mix of uses, the project includes a hotel conversion in the Babcock Building, a county library branch, a multi–screen movie compound, retail shops and restaurants, and plenty of pocket parks.

Cole quoted Mayor Bob Coble saying, “It’s an opportunity that will never come again.”

The next two major steps: The SC Budget and Control Board must approve the plan, and the City of Columbia must zone the land accordingly. Then the property can be sold and developed. Cole expects the sale of the property to be a single–event affair to one developer.

The master plan will be posted on a Web site once Budget and Control Board approval is final.

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