Friday, January 13, 2012
Half Baked in U-Gas Hill
Seeing the headline "Rock Hill moves to save 19th century church", I thought I was going to be able to do a post about something positive and something negative going on this month. The negative being the proposed demolition of the Southern Funeral Home on S. Grand just north of Carondelet Park. Reading the article though, I'm not so convinced. While the city of Rock Hill, whose name was derived from the presence of the historic church, has taken the first steps to acquire the property, the plan to preserve the historic building itself is contingent upon raising money to move the structure.
Unfortunately the city of Rock Hill is still convinced that a giant U-Gas - Phillips 66 gas station with a convenient store and car wash is the highest and best use for the main intersection at the center of their community. According to the article, the city taking ownership of the historic church is contingent upon raising money from scratch to move the building to one of two less prominent locations nearby in Rock Hill and maintain it in the future with an unspecified use (potentially no income). One of the locations is on an obscure side road next to the city's municipal storage yard. While moving the church is feasible, it would be very costly.
Instead of raising money to move Rock Hill's namesake historic structure from the city's main intersection, the city should raise money to purchase the property and move their city hall from a rented storefront to the former church. The attached modern era school could be used as a community center and library, which is currently located in another strip shopping center a few blocks west of city hall. To make this more financially feasible, the remaining part of the large 2 acre site along McKnight Road could be developed privately for commercial, residential or mixed use with an RFP process.
Rock Hill's former "city hall" in a run-down strip mall didn't exactly say "welcome to our lovely municipality". The current location on Thorton isn't an improvement.
The half baked U-Gas Hill plan currently supported by the city would also require relocation of the historic Fairfax House. The house was previously re-located from across Manchester to make way for commercial development.