Hartsville approves Lincoln Village transfer

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Following an executive session at their April 14 regular meeting, Hartsville City Council voted – conditionally – to take ownership of the abandoned housing project known as Lincoln Village, a site long considered a blight property and a public danger.

At their March 10 meeting, council voted without objection to pass first reading of Ordinance 4193, transferring ownership of that nearly 7-acre site from developer JDL Castle Corp (working this project as Hartsville Flats LLC) to the City of Hartsville. Final reading of 4193 took place this month, and council approved the transfer pending environmental review clearance.

City manager Natalie Zeigler explained in March that the developer could not secure tax credits from the South Carolina Housing Finance Agency, and the company lacked adequate capital to renovate the property without state help.

A Feb. 19 letter to the city from E. Bryce Shearburn of JDL Castle Corp. stated that crucial information was withheld from his company during acquisition, namely hazardous environmental conditions (like asbestos in the walls) which would cost too much to remedy. To avoid punitive action in the form of city codes enforcement fines, the developer offered to deed the property to the city.

Located at 712 South Eighth Street, Lincoln Village is comprised of eight two-story brick buildings that once housed 64 rental apartments. It was once a thriving residential area, but several ownership changes and years of neglect brought in drug-related crime, and looters stripped out pipes and wires for scrap. In recent months, the buildings were boarded up to dissuade trespassers and prevent further damage.

The cost-free property transfer proposed in Ord. 4193 would allow JDL Castle to write it off as a loss and let Hartsville apply for a Community Development Block Grant to demolish Lincoln Village and convert it to green space.
A document provided by the Darlington County Assessor’s Office values the property at $110,000, with $15,000 in added value from improvements. That same document states that in August of 2012, Hartsville Flats LLC paid $275,000 for Lincoln Village.

In other matters, council approved two ordinances, 4194 and 4195, pertaining to the issuance and sale of $12 million in bonds to fund improvements to the city’s waterworks and sewer system.
Ordinance 4196, authorizing the purchase of .69 acres at the corner of Railroad Ave and Fourth Street for $75,000, received unanimous approval.

Council carried over first reading of Ordinance 4197, which would amend zoning regulations to allow upscale self-service storage facilities within the city’s business zone.
Hartsville Chamber of Commerce president Quinetta Buterbaugh presented council with an annual update. She thanked local businesses for their strong participation in the Chamber’s recent membership drive, which has yielded 19 new members since October, and for keeping the member renewal rate at a strong 90-percent. Buterbaugh also encouraged council and mayor to attend business events and build a sense of teamwork between elected officers and those they serve.

“When city officials take the time to visit with business owners at ribbon cuttings or open houses, it’s not just a nice gesture, it’s a symbol of unity,” said Buterbaugh.
She mentioned several upcoming events, including a Downtown Block Party (April 23) and the Taste of Hartsville (May 7).

Author: Jana Pye

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