Massive Cleanup Begins On Columbia’s Bus Barn Site

July 23, 2008

By JEFF WILKINSON – jwilkinson@thestate.com

SCANA Corp. will begin demolition and cleanup today of one of the most prized pieces of real estate in Columbia — the old bus barn lot at Huger and Hampton streets.

Combined with the adjacent Kline Iron and Steel property, the clearing of the bus lot means 13½ acres of land in the heart of the Vista — Huger Street between Hampton and Gervais streets — is open for development.

Together the parcels are the largest developable tract in the Vista since the old 25-acre CCI prison site was sold for the CanalSide development.

“I could easily see $300 million in development there — $150 million on each of those sites,” said Fred Delk, executive director of the Columbia Development Corp., which guides investment in the Vista.

The tract would be prime for any type of high-density, mixed use development from office and condo towers to hotels and shopping, experts said.

The bus barn land was first developed in 1902 as an SCE&G manufactured gas plant — a time when Huger Street was a dirt road and coal gas lit city streets.

But the byproduct of that gas production was coal tar, which contains the contaminants benzene and naphthalene.

The $5 million to $6 million cleanup will take up to 10 months to complete, said SCANA project manager Bob Apple. Workers will tear down all the buildings, and remove soil to a depth of 25 feet.

“A bunch of dirt goes out, and a bunch of dirt comes in,” Apple said.

The 5.8 acres then will be turned over to the city of Columbia as part of 2002’s $71 million deal to transfer the bus system from the utility to a regional transit authority.

The land will be sold to developers. “Absolutely,” Mayor Bob Coble said.



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