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Rep. Clyburn (D-SC) on Hand as Orangeburg breaks ground on Railroad Corner redevelopment project

WRDW News Story

The city of Orangeburg celebrated an impressive milestone on Wednesday with the groundbreaking of the Railroad Corner Revitalization project.

The idea that inspired this project was first shared years ago. Community leaders and local residents celebrated the groundbreaking venture.

via WRDW.

Press Release, City of Orangeburg (6-19-24): City of Orangeburg hosts groundbreaking for Railroad Corner

Orangeburg SC – The City of Orangeburg will be hosting a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, June 19 at 10 a.m., which will begin the revitalization of Railroad Corner.

The initial phase of the multi-phase project will include housing accommodations for 124 South Carolina State University students, office space, and commercial space targeted for quality, locally owned dining venues. Subsequent phases are expected to include housing for Claflin University students, additional commercial space, and faculty housing. The site will also be home to the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum.

The one-acre brownfield site will transform 12 historic city-owned parcels into mixed-use commercial and residential spaces through new construction and reuse of historical structures. The project is a public-private partnership between the City and Orangeburg University District Partners (OUDP).

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of this project to our community,” Orangeburg City Administrator Sidney Evering said. “The fact that so many organizations and partners on the federal, state, and local level have worked together to get us to this point is a testament of the significance of Railroad Corner. We are extremely cognizant of the role Railroad Corner has played in our past and very excited about its revitalization and the role it will play in the future of our community. I could not be prouder and more appreciative of the way our community has come together to support this project. I believe it is a harbinger of the positive growth that is coming to Orangeburg and will serve as a catalyst for future development.”

Railroad Corner will be developed by Orangeburg University District Partners, a real estate development team headed by Luna Development, a Norfolk, VA headquartered real estate developer. Michael E. Glenn is founder and CEO.

“I am proud of the opportunity to lead the Railroad Corner redevelopment team,” Glenn said. “While I have worked on scores of real estate projects across the country during my 30+ year career in real estate development, Railroad Corner is by far the most exciting.”

Global integrated design firm Stantec has also collaborated with the partnership to bring the community’s vision to fruition, serving as planning, environmental, design, and engineering lead in collaboration with local architecture firm Studio 2LR.

Additionally, Stantec worked with the City and OUDP— a development group consisting of Luna Development and HBCU Community Development Action Coalition, Orangeburg County, as well as South Carolina State University and Claflin University—to design student housing located on the site. The housing supports enrollment growth of the schools and is designed to embrace the spirit of both universities.

“The Orangeburg Railroad Corner project represents a turning point for the local community. These dormant spaces hold so much potential to breathe new life into this part of the City and we’re honored to play our part in helping unlock that potential,” said Amy Worsham, asset transformation and brownfields leader for Stantec’s Community Development practice. “Spaces like this exist in cities across the nation and we believe the Railroad Corner will set an example for the possibilities that other communities may discover as well.”

Robert K. Jenkins, Jr., CEO of Renaissance Equity Partners, who are economic development finance advisors to the project describes Orangeburg’s launch of the state-of-the-art community development project as a teaching exercise that will show other cities how to redevelop blighted communities surrounding HBCU campuses into vibrant mixed income, mixed use college town environments.

The $21 million project is being financed with a bevy of sophisticated economic development finance products, including federal New Markets Tax Credits and South Carolina Abandoned Property Tax Credits.

Financing partners include Optus Bank of Columbia SC, the South Carolina Community Loan Fund of Columbia, SC; the National Community Investment Fund of Chicago, IL; and US Bank of St. Louis, MO.

“We deeply appreciate the support of our financing partners,” Jenkins said. “We particularly appreciate the support we received from our two South Carolina based partners, Optus Bank, and the South Carolina Community Loan Fund. Their unequivocally strong commitment to the economic revitalization of South Carolina’s historically underserved communities is demonstrably clear. It was truly an honor to work with them.”