This Just In

Babcock Could Cost Developer More Than $20 Million to Renovate

Plus, GOP Education Candidates Face Off
By Eva Moore
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 |

WIS’s Jack Kuenzie spoke with the Louisiana developer who plans to renovate the historic Babcock building on the Bull Street campus into a 200-room hotel. According to the developer, the renovation depends upon a bill now pending at the State House that would increase the state tax credit for historic revitalization projects like Babcock. He also discussed the high costs of renovation, saying, “I like to say that the building is worth a negative $20 million dollars. ... that’s about what it’s going to take to get the asbestos out, the lead paint, and restore the structure where it’s actually collapsing in certain areas of the building. We have obsolete windows. It goes on and on and on. So it’s $20 million dollars to get this building to a shell state.”

A Tennessee-based company bought the recently vacated AgFirst Farm Credit Bank Building in downtown Columbia and plans to convert it into apartments — and will preserve the iconic “Tunnelvision” mural that local artist Blue Sky painted on the side of the building in 1975, The State reports.

The GOP candidates for superintendent of education met in a televised debate Tuesday night, answering questions about science education, the Common Core education standards and other topics. Most of the fireworks were between uber-conservative abstinence-only sex ed activist Sheri Few and former deputy superintendent Meka Childs: “Few, who turned nearly every question back to her opposition to Common Core, repeatedly targeted Childs, criticizing her for having worked for the state,” The State reports. Contrasts seem to have emerged between Molly Spearman, executive director of the S.C. Association for School Administrators, and the other candidates, with Spearman taking more moderate positions on many topics.

Charleston City Council took the first of three votes last night to enact a zoning law that would prevent future businesses downtown from selling alcohol after midnight. In a letter to his colleagues, Mayor Joe Riley, who supports the zoning overlay, wrote, “we believe we are close to a tipping point in terms of the late night and early morning bar related challenges in our city.” Surrounding neighborhoods support the bill, which drew the support of all but one council member.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell has beefed up his legal team, hiring “three of the state’s most experienced appeals lawyers” ahead of late June arguments before the state Supreme Court about who should hear ethics charges against him.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is facing a primary in a few weeks, will appear in Spartanburg and Columbia today with Ron Dermer, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, at events sponsored by Christians United for Israel.

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