Plan takes shape for BW industrial park

BLYTHEWOOD – A formal planning process is now under way for the development of the commercial portion of the 1,300-acre parcel of land near Blythewood’s downtown that’s slated to become an industrial park with an adjoining commercial area.

Richland County, which owns the land, is working with the Urban Land Institute to determine how best to develop the commercial portion of the property, said Tiffany Harrison, Deputy Director of the Richland County Economic Development Office.

“We know how to develop an industrial park; the commercial piece is something we feel like we need to bring those experts in to sort of develop a strategy,” Harrison said, explaining that a panel of experts will visit the area in June to gain input and develop recommendations.

“They will interview community stakeholders as well as county leadership and town leadership to kind of get a vision for what people would like to see happen there,” she said, “but at the end of the day the recommendation will be based on facts and market information, taking into account everything that they hear talking to the local community.”

In other words, the development plan for the property – while considering everyone’s ideas – will depend on what the market can realistically support.

The portion of the property where commercial development is planned consists of roughly 100 acres, which has frontage on Blythewood road and is mostly designated as part of the town’s “town center” zoning classification, which allows for multiple uses but is relatively restrictive.

The plan, Harrison says, is not to have a big-box shopping center – and to work closely with the town of Blythewood on the project.

“We’re looking for smart growth and smart development,” Harrison said. “We’ve got a great working relationship with the town. We’re really fortunate, and we meant it when we came up here and said we’re partners in this and we want to continue to work together. This benefits both the county and the town of Blythewood.”

Town Administrator Carroll Williamson said he’s been working closely with county officials since January on the project, and he views it as mutually beneficial.

Williamson said the town council, planning commission, and boards of architectural review and zoning appeals are all concerned about ensuring that the town’s growth is well-managed and reflects Blythewood’s character and standards.

“I think high-quality commercial development built with the guiding hand of the board of architectural review, which will review and approve the structure of new buildings of this park along Blythewood Road (zoned Town Center District) will be very beneficial to the town,” Williamson said.

“Obviously, traffic will be an ongoing issue that we will be addressing, both by working closely with the county and SCDOT [South Carolina Department of Transportation] as well as through the comprehensive plan. My hope and intent is for this development to complement the existing neighborhoods and benefit our residents.”

Meanwhile, Harrison said, progress is being made with regard to the industrial park development, and construction on that part of the project, which will include clearing and grading of the first industrial site, is expected to begin within the next few months.

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