There is a huge battle brewing between two factions concering “in-filling” downtown Columbia real estate. Get ready. This will get ugly in the name of each party’s definition of “beauty.”

If you haven’t seen, read or heard, Belinda Gergel wasted no time in grabbing the microphone for her cause (she is running for city council), calling for a 6 month moratorium on various building/tear down projects in the city. Ben Arnold’s demo job of the 78 year old Heathwood farmhouse was the springboard for her to screw a deadbolt in this plank of her political platform. Who can blame her?

On the other side are many developers, builders, contractors and tradesmen. These folks firmly believe that what they do is good for downtown Columbia (Enter Brian Boyer’s city council bid). They have a great point. For example, I’m not sure the new Rosewood, would be what it is today without some creative development and risk taking builders in-filling and tearing down old junk, and replacing them with fresh 2005’ish style homes. Go ask anyone that has lived in Columbia, SC for over 20 years if they would ever think that a house in Rosewood would fetch over $130.00/ft. They would look at you like you had 7 heads. Well, welcome to the new Rosewood. Furthermore, the new Columbia, SC.

A meeting has been called by local developers/builders at 1:00, Tuesday. The purpose is to build a response to Mrs. Gergel’s proposal. To listen and learn, I will be there with bells on.

This is probably another case of both sides being “right,” if even a little bit. Having said this, I’ll wager that we can find a better way. I hope that this fight stays within the bounds of being for the greater good, and not simply a political football. If nothing else, a full scale moratorium is a job killer, which I hope no one wants.

I have to inject that I have sold many Columbia homes that were in need of improvement. I must say too, that I am glad that I did. An improvement in my personal examples have been just that, an improvement.

More to come…


  1. You are correct. They are both right … to a degree. Neither of them has it all right. There definitely needs to be a compromise that includes the best points of both sides.

  2. Give us the scoop on the meeting.

  3. how big is Belinda’s house?

  4. I too think both sides are right. As Kirkman Finlay said in today’s meeting, we have to remember and understand that both sides believe they are working for the greater good of the city – no one party is the enemy. As the lone treehugger (lol) in the office, I was sad to hear the old farmhouse on Kilbourne was torn down. BUT, I also agree with one of our buyer clients that just yesterday said, “You know you are in a good neighborhood when you see in-fill properties being built.” Hopefully there is some middle ground.

  5. anonymous,

    I went to the meeting at Keg. Maybe 5 speakers had a few things to say. They were the owner of the Keg (Dumas), Dorsey, Rickenman, Finlay and Boyer.

    It was worth attending. There was a great turnout of all professions. I think that there was a good amount of passion in the room, and that the effort to prevent a moratorium will be solid.

  6. anonymous,

    The tax records reflect that the Gergel’s home is 4,382 heated/cooled square feet.

    In 2001, the MLS listing specs have the home at 4,018 heated/cooled square feet.

    As you can see, one or both of these numbers are incorrect. My bet is that the taxes are wrong. Either way, the home is over 4000 sq/ft.

    Tax rolls indicate that it was built in 1920, with the former listing sheet (2001) boasting that it is “Completely Renovated.”

  7. If developer/builders wouldn’t clear cut every tree and shrub standing it would be a vast improvement in relations with neighbors. Is this the only way to
    build? I doubt that. The first thing new owners in Forest Hills love to do is cut down pine trees and oak trees so that a lab can run or you will buy their house in two years when they sell out. And what makes the neighborhood great? The look of mature trees and landscaped lots.

    I’m not sure $/sq. ft. tells the Rosewood story. What percentage is owned by student’s parents putting those homes in their child’s name? Just count the flags.

  8. The problem I see is why is it o.k. for someone to bring in tons of dirt to build up the land so they can build the McMansion of their dreams? I have no problem with a big house, had one and it is not everything it is cracked up to be!
    The total height of the structure SHOULD include original lot and house.

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