Georgetown property ‘not a viable steel mill going forward,’ says mayor

GEORGETOWN, SC (WBTW) – The City of Georgetown will host three public meetings to discuss the future plan for the Georgetown Steel Mill, and the first meeting will take place Thursday.

Georgetown County reports Thursday’s meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at Screven Baptist Church, 2221 S. Island Rd.

A panel from the Urban Land Institute visited the steel mill plant in September 2016. After visiting the location, meeting with the community and hosting talks with Georgetown leaders, the panel created a 53-page study of Georgetown and its recommendations on how to make the area thrive economically and bring jobs to the county. That complete study can be read here.

During the meeting, a brief overview of the plan submitted by Urban Land Institute will be presented, in addition to an explanation of how the panel studied the area and came to their conclusions. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and give their input about the plan, or offer other ideas the county should consider.

Georgetown County reports more than 800 residents provided input to the panel in September during one-on-one interviews or surveys during the planning process. Every comment submitted was reviewed and considered by the panel.

The City of Georgetown and Georgetown County are “excited about pursuing the opportunities the ULI plan presents for our community, and look forward to beginning a conversation with residents about the direction the community should take in regard to development of that site,” the county reports.

Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville says he would like a fresh start with the steel mill property.

“Ideally the old mill, you can see over my shoulder would be torn down and the whole property would be zoned mixed use,” says hopeful Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville.

Mayor Scoville says he envisions homes and a variety of business on the property rather than a rebirth of the steel mill.

“The mill has closed down three times in the past 10 years,” explains the mayor. “Every time it’s reopened, it’s reopened with fewer employees, and everything points to the fact that this site is just not a viable steel mill going forward.”

Scoville wants to completely rebuild and use the history and natural environment of Georgetown to drive tourism and bring back jobs.

“The number one aim is to create long-term, viable well-paying jobs on the property and city council will insist that there be a serious job component to any redevelopment of the property,” assures the mayor.

The mayor isn’t the only one ready for a change. Tyler Casselman works next door to the shutdown mill and remembers when times were better.

“My granddad used to work there,” recalls Casselman. “It had a lot of jobs. When it closed down, it hurt a lot of people.”

While the jobs and development are needed, Georgetown city leaders say a complete rebuild of the property could take up to a decade.

On the county’s Facebook page, some have questioned rumors that the Port of Georgetown will close, but the county says nothing has been decided definitely.

“The port’s status won’t be decided until the use of the steel mill site is decided, but the PA (Port Authority) has indicated it is open to making that property available if needed,” reports the county. “This will be part of the discussion at the meetings. Please come take part if you are able.”

The county also notes that before anything is done with the steel mill property, “there will be planning, zoning and economic development issues associated that will come before either city or county officials.”

Thursday’s meeting will be the first of three. The other two meetings will be held:

  • Monday, March 6 at Howard Auditorium, 1610 Hawkins St.
  • Tuesday, March 7 at Duncan Methodist Church, 901 Highmarket St.

Georgetown County predicts within its Facebook post that a new buyer of the property “would probably request tax incentives,” and the three public meetings are a way for residents to air out their thoughts on what the community needs before the city or county decide on any changes to the property.

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