Redevelopment plans for steel mill site have Georgetown residents divided

Redevelopment plans for steel mill site have Georgetown residents divided

GEORGETOWN, SC (WCSC) - The Georgetown community is split on how the city should move forward with the ArcelorMittal steel mill site.

About 100 people came out to the last public meeting for the community to give feedback on redevelopment plans for the mill.

The steel mill closed in 2015 and more than 200 people lost their jobs.

With a new vision and a redevelopment plan the city is ready for a transformation. Paul Gardner is the city administrator.

"We have a great city and it's all about deciding what's best," Gardner said.

The Urban Land Institute performed a $125,000 study to find what it's calling the best use for the area.

The redevelopment plans include rezoning the property from heavy industrial to mix-use that includes creating waterfront activities both recreational and commercial.

"It's about having that live, work, play place and that is the vision," Gardner said.

This vision upsets some former steel mill workers like Robert Campbell.  He would like to see the mill open back up for business, he worked there for four years.

"It fed my family very well, bought my truck, helped me get a house," Campbell said. "It was very good money."

Lifetime Georgetown resident Donald Gilliard understands the push back for change, but he feels it could move the city forward.

"I think it's probably time for this community for growth for us to accept the ULI study," Gilliard said.

The city says the goal is to create a place for locals and tourists to enjoy while also boosting the local economy and creating jobs.

"We want minorities to be a part of the decision for contracting," Gilliard said.

Robert feels the new jobs wouldn't be as substantial as the jobs the mill once created.

"The steel mill was a big part of Georgetown," Campbell said.

Gardner knows how the divided the residents are.

"We have absolutely heard things on both ends of the spectrum and everything in between," Gardner said.

Gardner says the next step is for a committee to begin specific development plans that would include stakeholders, elected officials and community input. Redevelopment could also include the port of Georgetown.

The City of Georgetown does not own the steel mill property that is worth tens of millions of dollars according to the city administrator.

There are other companies already looking to buy it. After talking with the property owners last week the city will contract a development partner before making an offer.

"I asked them can the city come with a partner to the table and take it? They said hey we'll accept any offer that's a valid offer," Campbell said.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.