Downtown improvements pick up steam

Council voted to “take” the building after the roof caved in, making it a hazard. | Photo: Martha Ladd

WINNSBORO –  During Monday night’s regular town council meeting, council voted unanimously to pass Resolution 2024-5, the Taking of Blighted Downtown Property located at 115 North Congress Street. That property, previously occupied by a hair salon, has been vacant for years, according to Town Manager Jason Taylor.

“The building in question is next to the former Wells Fargo building. The roof is falling in on this building and it’s basically just a façade. It’s a hazard right now and a hindrance to the buildings around it,” Taylor said. “With no roof, the building is basically collecting water, and that water is settling in the building and going on under the next door buildings causing mold problems for them. That’s having an especially negative impact on a building next to it that has been purchased for re-development.”

Taylor said the Town has tried to purchase the building in order to clean it up and renovate it.

“We’ve tried to work with the landowner to bring the building up to a safe, productive condition, but that hasn’t worked out,” Taylor said. “Right now, with the roof falling in, the building is an open danger to anyone going in, and to the buildings around it. So, we have taken the initiative to condemn and take the building,”

“The way condemnation works,” Taylor said, “is that once council votes to condemn a building and executes the condemnation, the Town owns the building.”

The Town had previously purchased the building in a tax sale, for $14,100, but the owner came back and redeemed it after the sale.

“We’ve been working with the owner on this for years. The building is a fire, safety, and mold hazard and is retarding growth downtown,” Taylor said. “It was time we did something to clean it up.”

The Town of Winnsboro has purchased several dilapidated buildings during the last year in the downtown area with the intent of renovating and selling them to businesses – including the Thespian Hall and the Tavern.

“We also have options on several other buildings desperately in need of repair,” said Town Manager Jason Taylor. “We recently were given permission by DHEC (Department of Health and Environmental Control) to purchase a contaminated property at 206 N. Congress Street that was formerly occupied by a dry cleaning business. And we have options on several others.”

Maybe Another Million

In other business, Taylor told council it looks positive that the Town will get another million dollars in a state appropriation for downtown revitalization, giving the Town a total of $2 million in revitalization money to work with.

“If we get that, it’ll be a game changer,” Taylor said. “What we can do with $2 million is a lot different than what we can do with $1 million.

“We are very grateful for our representative Annie McDaniel for all she has done to help us with these grants,” Taylor said.

The Town has already received $1 million in state appropriations with McDaniel’s help.

$20K to Chamber

Council also approved a requested sponsorship for the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce in the amount of $20,000

Council approved a request from the Armstrong family for $700 to buy back-to-school supplies and refreshments for the Zion Hill Save the Kids Back to School Bash event that will take place July 13.

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