MSJ Advisory Committee appointed

By: By Charles Warner - [email protected]
Charles Warner | The Union Times A Main Street Junction Advisory Committee has been appointed to provide City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson with advice and information about Main Street Junction on Main Street in downtown Union.

UNION — The new Main Street Junction Advisory Committee appointed Tuesday will provide the Office of the Mayor of the City of Union will advice and information on Main Street Junction.

During its February meeting Tuesday evening, Union City Council voted unanimously to authorize Mayor Harold Thompson to appoint an Advisory Committee for Main Street Junction.

The motion approved by council states that the Advisory Committee will:

• Be a collection of individuals who bring unique knowledge and skills to more effectively help guide the operations of Main Street Junction.

• Serve to make recommendations and/or provide key information and materials to the Mayor’s office.

• Play an important public relations role as well as provide oversight and provide a fresh perspective on programmatic issues.

It further states that the committee may evaluate the operations of Main Street Junction, gather input from/serve as a liasion, provide feedback from the community and provide an independent/unbiased sounding board, and assist staff in determining the activities at Main Street Junction.

The members of the Advisor Committee are Andrena Powell-Baker, Graham Williams, Curtiss Hunter, Debbie Woodard, and Ex-Offico member Tommy Anthony

Located at 107 East Main Street in downtown Union, Main Street Junction is the result of $1.5 million project the city undertook in 2015 to renovate the old Super 10 building and turn it into a multi-purpose facility that can accommodate events and activities such as weddings, receptions, family reunions, corporate meetings, dances, comedy shows and fashion shows.

Main Street Junction features a catering kitchen, restrooms, and a banquet area downstairs. There are also accordion glass doors at the back of building that open onto a covered veranda. Stairs on both ends of the deck allow access to the fenced-in ornamental park.

The reception area in front of the building has two flat screen TVs, chairs, sofa and tables. An elevator inside the reception area takes people to the second floor. There is also a stairway beside the building allowing entry from the sidewalk to upstairs.

The upstairs areas also features two offices, a kitchenette, a conference room with a flat-screen TV, restrooms, a bridal dressing room and a flex room.

In addition to the renovation of the building itself, the project also included the demolition of an adjacent building to make way for a patio with handicapped access to the park built behind Main Street and to the restroom facilities within the junction itself.

Since its Grand Opening on Aug. 1, 2016, Main Street Junction has been the site of a number of event beginning with the Union County Meals on Wheels Charity Gala which was held at the end of August in the Great Room. This year, Main Street Junction was the site of the “Baby It’s Cold Outside Winter Ball” hosted by the Union County Youth Leadership Program in January for the students of Union County High School.

Anyone interested in renting all or part of Main Street Junction may call Debbie Woodard at the City of Union at 864-429-1700.

Student Housing

Tuesday’s meeting also saw council approve second reading of an ordinance amending the City of Union Zoning Ordinace to permit the construction of house for student from outside Union County attending USC Union.

The amendment states that apartments are not permitted in the A-1 (Central Business District) zoning district, but that downtown residential uses will help support revitalization efforts on Main Street in that district and recent improvements to the USC Union Campus. It further states that the amendment to the zoning ordinance will allow “multi-family residential as a land use permitted by special exception.”

Second reading of the ordinance comes just four months after City Council, in joint session with Union County Council, heard a presentation from Wayne McBride of McBride Properties, LLC, about his plans to build housing for students near USC Union.

McBride is the developer who built student housing at USC Lancaster and he has obtained an option on property along Depot Street near the old rail depot. He is proposing to build facilities that would house two dozen students with two students per apartment.

During that same meeting, the councils also heard from USC Union Acting Dean John Catalano who said that student housing will be a crucial factor in helping USC Union attract the student body it needs to reverse the gradual decline it is facing in enrollment. Catalano pointed to recent media reports of a projected decline in the number of students enrolled in local schools, a decline that will also affect USC Union. He pointed out that a number of students currently enrolled at USC Union are “concurrent students” who are attending both high school and college.

Catalano said the solution to this decline is to bring in students from outside the county and USC Union is taking steps to do this by expanding its athletic offerings and with new educational offerings such as its RN program. He said the challenge facing USC Union in doing this is the lack of housing for these students. Catalano said some property owners have begun to help address this problem by remodeling their properties to accommodate students. He said that as of October there were three female students from Aiken living in Santuc while attending USC Union and three male members of the baseball team living in Union.

Even with the aid of these property owners, however, Catalano said there is still not enough housing available for students, especially with USC Union looking to have 75-100 student athletes in its athletic program from outside the county. Catalano pointed out that USC Union has just received authorization to go from club sports to junior college level sports which means more opportunities for student athletes and more need for student housing. He said that USC Union will be getting athletes from all over the place and that it needs to build an inventory of housing for them.

Catalano said that McBride’s proposal could help build that inventory, pointing out that the facilities would be state-of-the-art, ready to move in townhouses having two bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths each. He said this is what USC Union is looking for.

Charles Warner | The Union Times A Main Street Junction Advisory Committee has been appointed to provide City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson with advice and information about Main Street Junction on Main Street in downtown Union. Warner | The Union Times A Main Street Junction Advisory Committee has been appointed to provide City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson with advice and information about Main Street Junction on Main Street in downtown Union.
Rezoning for student housing moves forward

By Charles Warner

[email protected]

Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.

Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.