GEORGETOWN, SC (WCSC) - A panel of Urban Land Institute experts revealed their vision Friday, on how Georgetown can transform industrial sites like the old steel
mill and Port of Georgetown into a thriving economic and creative hub.
"You have some jewels in this town, you have some jewels in this county. You don't have to go far to see it," Juanita Hardy, panelist, said to a packed auditorium.
Experts said locals must build on Georgetown's assets, like the waterfront, city history and arts and cultural scene in order to revive the old steel mill site and Port of Georgetown into a vibrant space that will fuel the economy.
The mill employed hundreds of workers until it closed in the summer of 2015.
"With the mill closing, you have two hundred jobs gone," Talicia McCants, resident, said. "That's the biggest thing I'd like to see as an impact…and something for the youth."
Job creation is a primary goal for the plan, according to panelist, who recommended county and city leaders focus efforts on innovation and arts and culture.
"One of their findings was that art is a huge economic driver so let's build on that," Graham Ladd, who recently re-located from Pawley's Island to Georgetown, said. "I see it as a really great cultural opportunity."
Panelists envision the 150 acres surrounding the site holding a town square or "Georgetown Commons," a "University Village" for research and housing, plus an area for a waterfront park, farmers market and hotel. More than 800 people shared their ideas with
the panel before Friday's presentation.
"I am for the vision, I just want to make sure that we move forward properly," McCants said, adding she wants communication with the areas involved. Especially with the West End because that would impact them greatly," McCants said.
Experts estimate the project could take 20 years to realize. Obstacles include the area's low income rate and small population growth yet, leaders said next steps, like rezoning the site, are already in motion--
"They're excited about what our potential is, we're excited about what our potential is," Brian Tucker, Georgetown County, director of economic development, said. "So the next step is maintaining that energy…pushing that and making sure we don't get complacent."
Portions of the affected site are privately owned. The steel mill site must also be evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency for
An ArcelorMittal spokesperson previously confirmed the former wire rod facility is for sale. "We are evaluating credible interest from potential buyers," the spokesperson said. "We hope to see the property transformed
into a more productive use."
"SCPA is supportive of the discussions about potential redevelopment in the Georgetown region. Things are
preliminary at this point, but the Port looks forward to being involved and participating in the process with Georgetown leaders," Erin Dhand, a representative for SC Ports Authority, said.
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