Bull Street Campus Development in Limbo


Future of Bull Street in limbo
Agency says ‘new urbanism’ plan for 181-acre site might be scrapped

May 18, 2008

By Jeff Wilkinson – The State

The S.C. Mental Health Commission has developed a three-year timetable for moving the last 200 or so patients from its sprawling Bull Street campus to make way for its redevelopment.

The commission also has chosen the NAI Avant company of Columbia to market and sell the 181-acre site, the largest downtown tract of land to come on the market in more than a century.

But that sale could shelve a development plan that city and state officials and regular citizens shaped three years ago with new urbanism guru Andres Duany.

The plan cost $390,000. The city of Columbia paid half. The state paid the other half.

The S.C. Supreme Court last year decided the Mental Health Commission, not the state of South Carolina, owns the land.

Mental health officials say their goal is to get the highest price possible for the site — even if that means scrapping Duany’s plan.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility to get the highest and best price for the property and use the proceeds for the care of the patients and clients of the agency,” said Mental Health Department attorney Mark Binkley, who is acting as its spokesman on the project.

“We appreciate the advice from the city, the state and the people in the development of the Duany plan,” he said. “But we’ve got paid advisers, and we’re going to listen to them as well.”

Buyers may have their own ideas for the site and want to tailor it to their own needs. Short of an industrial use, Binkley said, the department would consider other proposals if they would yield a higher price from a buyer.


Selling the Bull Street property has been proposed — on-again, off-again — for years.


Value estimates from $12 to $32 million? Now that they have a development plan in place it could easily be appraised.

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