Dorchester Co. to ask Summerville to remove headquarters from Midtown tax district

Dorchester County says they will be sending a letter to the Town of Summerville regarding a potential financial change to its headquarters off Main Street.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 4:14 PM EDT|Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 8:28 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County says they will be sending a letter to the Town of Summerville regarding a potential financial change to its headquarters off Main Street.

Council Chairman Todd Friddle said removing the headquarters from the Summerville Midtown Redevelopment Plan will give them more flexibility on redeveloping the site and future projects, such as streetscaping Cedar and Main Streets.

“They would get a 10% tax because of the situation,” Dorchester County Council Chair Todd Friddle said. “This would take them down to 6%, which everybody else pays tax. The difference gives them the ability to save the façade, to do some work.”

The town created the plan last year, which encompasses over 660 acres of land in and around the historic downtown. The county wants to take it out of the district, which they said will allow them to bond an estimated $100 million more versus leaving it in, generating $3 million per year in taxes.

Town of Summerville spokesperson Christopher Makowski released the following statement:

“At present, we have not received an official request from Dorchester County regarding the proposed removal of 500 N. Main St. from the Midtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. Once we receive the letter, we will promptly add the issue to an agenda for discussion during an upcoming council meeting. Our Town Council is committed to maintaining a transparent and open process for all public interests. Hence, we invite and encourage all community members to participate.”

Friddle also said Dorchester School District Two schools would receive additional funding should the property be taken out of the district.

“DD2 only gets $2 million, and of those $2 million, it has to be spent in the TIF area, which will be Alston [Middle School], Alston-Bailey [Elementary] School,” Friddle said. “With this project, they’ll get an additional $8 million, which can be used anywhere in the county.”

He also said the move could give the eventual developer responsible for the project more financial room to work with, allow them to potentially update and expand the Veteran’s memorial and add more affordable housing.

“By doing this, we’re actually going to be able to put some workforce housing in for teachers, firemen and first responders,” Friddle said. “Which is going to give a tax break actually to the developer. Which is going to give them the additional benefit to be able to save the façade of the building possibly.”

Friddle also advocated the move could allow the county to have additional funding to move forward with other projects and amenities.

“It will actually give us the ability to do a $20 million rec center for the community, which not necessarily being pulled out of the TIF,” he said. “It can be put anywhere in the county. The most feasible place to do it would be at Ashley River Park.”

The council chairman also called the proposed project “generational” for the area.

“This project is driven to enhance the downtown,” Friddle said. “We don’t want to change Summerville. We’re trying to enhance it and make it a great place to live, work and play.”

County officials said they still need to sell the property and pick a developer before any construction starts at the site.