As the City of Columbia explores how to pay for infrastructure, parking and possibly a baseball stadium at Bull Street, the estimated price continues to go up.
Council has already committed to spending $31.236 million at Bull Street, money that developer Bob Hughes will use for water and sewer lines and other infrastructure. In return, over the next 30 years, Hughes plans to build a massive live-work-play development there.
The City of Columbia has also committed to building two parking garages of 800 spaces each at Bull Street, provided Hughes meets certain development milestones. The estimated pricetag for the two garages together has climbed to $25,890,000, according to a presentation city staff made Feb. 4.
And then there’s the baseball stadium. Originally, Hughes suggested a stadium could cost $20 million; he’s since admitted that figure is outdated. Hardball Capital owner Jason Freier, who’s proposing to bring a team to Columbia, is pitching a deal under which the city would pay $35 million. But a consulting group the city has hired to help explore options for building a stadium is working with a pricetag of $41.8 million — the total projected amount to issue bonds, handle all contracting and due diligence and actually build the stadium.
In other words, city taxpayers are already on the hook for $57,126,000 at Bull Street. The baseball stadium would bump that price tag up to as much as $98,926,000, if one uses the consultants' $41.8 million price.
Frustrated with the growing costs, Councilman Moe Baddourah asked Columbia Chief Financial Officer Jeff Palen, “When do you say ‘This is a firm number that we can go with’?”
Essentially, said Palen, he’ll have to continue revising his projections throughout the process.
At Council’s Tuesday meeting, Palen and the city’s and financial adviser laid out a few scenarios for how the city could cover all these costs. [View their presentation here.]
The basic funding proposal involves:
Issuing a $30 million bond backed up by hospitality tax collections;
Paying $5 million in cash in $1 million increments; and
Issuing $57,126,000 in Installment Purchase Revenue Bonds spread out over five years. IPRBs can be paid back from a variety of sources.
Whatever happens, Mayor Steve Benjamin wanted it made clear the city won’t be spending water and sewer funds on non-water and sewer aspects of the project.
“There was a consensus on this Council that water and sewer funds be used for water and sewer only,” Benjamin said.
But, pointed out Councilman Leona Plaugh, the city would still be “putting water and sewer funds at Bull Street over other [water and sewer] needs in the city.”
That discussion is somewhat moot, Councilman Tameika Isaac Devine pointed out.
“We are committed to funding the infrastructure for Bull Street, which is $57 million,” Devine said. “Whether or not we have an additional commitment, that’s going to be part of this discussion. The reality is we have a standing agreement with a developer and we are looking at [financing] options. We’re on the hook.”
The consulting group Brailsford and Dunlavey laid out two possible schedules for the baseball stadium project. One would have the city hiring a firm to both design and build the stadium, with construction beginning within months and a team starting the 2015 season in the stadium. The other, slower timetable would let the city contract a design and then take bids for a builder, and would have a team in the stadium for the 2016 season. The schedules are available here.
The Castle Summer Camps
Clown Camp: Ages 7-12. Week of July 28 • Zombie Camp: Ages 10-15. Week of August 4. $125 per camp, discounts for siblings! 2076 Hwy Church Rd. 803-309-5586. TheEventCastle@yahoo.com
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
Trustus Theatre Presents Evil Dead, The Musical
This musical version of Sam Raimi’s cult classic films promises to serve up more humor than horror. You can read more and purchase your tickets here.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Make your own beer and wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop, 736 St. Andrews Road. Click to find out how!
$7 Special Summer Menu at Tony’s Downtown
Stop in and try our special $7 summer menu (tax and drink included!) at Tony’s Pizza & Italian Eatery, downtown Columbia. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local restaurants serving locally grown food during Palmetto Tasty Tomato Restaurant Feast, July 11-18: