The long-awaited revitalization of Railroad Corner is underway, according to a release from the City of Orangeburg.

Developers and city officials are planning to break ground on a new housing and entertainment development soon to create a new attraction for downtown Orangeburg.

The facility will include planned student housing for neighboring South Carolina State and Claflin universities, an art-themed restaurant, a bookstore that highlights Black authors and a new South Carolina Civil Rights Museum.

Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said the new development will be the perfect connection between a modern city and its historic past.

“This is a way to bring everyone together,” Butler said. “With enhancements such as the pedestrian overpass, businesses and student housing, we will be able to offer something for everyone and … encourage economic development in this area.

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“I want our residents to know that we have not forgotten about the promises that the City Council has made to develop Railroad Corner.”

The new development will include two, 120-bed buildings to increase student housing the local universities need immediately.

For example, South Carolina State University’s freshmen class was the largest in a decade and the school faces increased enrollment projections into the future.

The city’s release says the project will create hundreds of full-time jobs in construction, hospitality and other professions.

The project will also allow students to be directly involved in the construction and operation of the development to enhance their education and employment opportunities, the city said.

Orangeburg City Administrator Sidney Evering said he is proud to support the new development.

“The Railroad Corner Development is immensely important to the City of Orangeburg,” Evering said. “The development will not only serve to meet the needs of our community and universities, but it will also pay homage to our past and serve as a catalyst for future development.”

James McQuilla, president of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, said the project will bring new life to downtown Orangeburg in a spot that has been critical to the Black community.

“Railroad Corner was the place where residents and students would hang out,” McQuilla said. “It was the place where people met at the soda shop and people got their hair cut. The new

development will continue that tradition and make our city a place where people can stay and make a difference.”

The project is one of many happening to create a more modern Orangeburg.

The county has demolished the old Palmetto Inn and Suites and Winn Dixie grocery store on Russell Street to build a new courthouse.

The city is renovating the old First Citizens Bank building on Russell and Broughton streets into a new city hall.

In addition, a local non-profit is raising funds to restore and reopen the historic All-Star Bowling Alley.

Mike Glenn with Luna Development and Ron Butler, CEO of HBCU CDAC (Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition), are the project developers.

Additionally, Equity Partners of Washington, D.C. will serve as economic development financial advisers to the project. They will oversee the complex financing for the project.

“Railroad Corner offered me a chance to continue my work to redevelop another African American community,” Glenn said. “I have developed similar projects in the Southeast to revitalize other communities, but I am excited about Railroad Corner because of what that site means to Orangeburg.

“It’s an opportunity to respect the past with a project for the future.”

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