Railroad Corner will bring students into city, mayor says
By: TERRY BENJAMIN II
Mar 14, 2022
Mayor Michael Butler speaks via Zoom on Feb. 10.
Mayor Michael Butler wants to involve the universities more with the City of Orangeburg, he said during a Feb. 10 press conference with Panther reporters.
A priority is Railroad Corner, the area near the universities bounded by Russell Street and Boulevard and Magnolia. The city plans to remake the corner with new construction and renovation of other buildings.
“That is the gateway to the city, and we want to get the gateway attractive enough to where people want to come into the city,” Butler said.
“We are looking to develop the whole corridor, starting from Railroad Corner all the way down to the gardens. We have purchased several buildings downtown. We have purchased the Braxton shoe store, we have purchased the old First Citizens bank, that’s where city hall will be. We’re going to have to renovate those buildings and search for tenants to occupy those buildings. We hope to have city hall up and going by this year, and I mean up and going by starting the actual renovations,” Butler said.
The city aims to brings more students from Claflin and South Carolina State universities into downtown. Similar to Five Points in Columbia, the goal is to build foot traffic and have lively city life created by college students.
“For Railroad Corner, that came about 20 years ago. We wanted to bring the colleges from behind the walls, Claflin and State. From behind their walls and into the City of Orangeburg. We wanted some amenities to draw those students. Like USC, you see Five Points, you see Clemson, you go downtown. We wanted something in that line for Orangeburg. We wanted to meet the needs of the college students and the needs of the people who are currently living here,” Butler said.
The city has made progress with its plans by buying properties. It has renderings and will look to start working on the Railroad Corner project later in 2022.
“We were able to purchase all the property at Railroad Corner except two parcels because the owners are not willing to sell, but we are going to develop around them,” Butler said.
The plans for what to do with Railroad Corner came from multiple meetings, some involving college representatives and students.
“They brought the SGA president from both schools, the neighborhood people, and all the stakeholders. All the people this would effect were in this meeting and just brainstormed what they would like to see,” Butler said.
“Those colleges have been there for hundreds of years, and they deserve a presence downtown.”