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.


Chris said...

"Communities cannot prosper and grow on the history and romance of their past..."

--Quoted from the Rock Hill city website

Well, that explains everything now. I guess we now have the latest tactic in destroying historic buildings: "magnanimously" offering to save the building, provided someone, somewhere comes up with a million dollars in two weeks to move it.

Anonymous said...

That stinks. I've admired that church for a long time, with it's "fake" buttresses and obvious height addition. That's primo primo real estate.
Great job on the pictures, by the way. You really managed isolate both buildings.

Hilary said...

FWIW, City Hall as moved to W. Thornton Av. It's still a crappy location though. Just wanted to make sure the record was straight. :-)

Vanishing STL said...

Thanks for the correction Hilary.

Erin said...

We are working on a plan to move the church, since the gas station is going to happen. @Chris, it will not require a million dollars to two weeks.

Please check out or

Vanishing STL said...

Thanks for sharing this Erin, I'll post this.

Vanishing STL said...

Erin (or anyone else), have you seen the proposed site plan for the U-Gas? I can't hep but wonder if there is a way for the church to remain on the corner even if school is demolished, Fairfax House moved and the gas station built around it? It seems like a very spacious site that could accommodate both.

Erin said...

We've been told by U-Gas that their architects drew up several plans that included leaving the church where it sits. Those plans would not allow for enough traffic flow.

Thomas B said...

I believe I read that this Gas Station will be the 4th in Rock Hill. That is two over what is allowed in the charter. I went to pre-school and performed in Christmas Shows here. I also grew up in Rock Hill. I loved growing up in Rock Hill, with it's retro City Hall that housed the white fire engine and an awesome library. (Which is now Commercial Property) I am disgusted to see what the city has become, a money hungry suburb trying to ride on the coat tails of it's neighboring cities. This is one of the last historic places in the area. Sad.
How many gas stations does a 1.1 sq mile area need?

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