Union awarded $500,000 grant

The City of Union will use a $500,000 state grant to help fund the demolition of approximately 30 blighted properties on a total of 10 streets in the downtown area.

In a letter sent to City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson, SC District 18 Sen. Ronnie Cromer announced that the city had been awarded a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Community Enrichment Program.

City of Union Administrator Joe Nichols said that the grant, which the city applied for in August, will be used “for the demolition of approximately 30 blighted properties in Census Tract 303.” Nichols said that the buildings to be demolished “are all marked, condemned, and unsafe for occupancy,” adding that the project is part of the city’s long-term policy of “cleaning up residences that are deteriorated beyond repair.” He said the buildings to be demolished are located on the following streets in the downtown area:

• South Pinckney Street

• Rogers Circle

• East Henrietta Street

• Carson Street

• Cornwell Street

• North Pinckney Street

• South Mountain Street

• Woodrow Street

• Axel Street

• McBeth Street

As for when the demolitions will begin, Nichols said the city is preparing to put the project out for bids.

Like previous grants the city has received, the grant for the demolitions required a 10 percent local match which Union City Council authorized at its August meeting.

Nichols said Wednesday that $30,000 of the match will come from the city’s Demolition Fund while the other $20,000 will come from the Building and Zoning Fund. He said that part of the local match will be used to pay for the engineering and environmental studies that will be conducted before the demolitions get under way.

The grant awarded the city for the demolition project was one of 21 grants totaling more than $7 million announced by the SC Department of Commerce (SDOC).

“The CDBG program continues to be an invaluable asset to economic development efforts in communities across South Carolina,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt in a statement released Wednesday. “With this resource, and the public projects it affords, our state’s residents enjoy an improved quality of life, which is the hallmark of South Carolina as an ideal destination for business.”

The press release states that the SCDOC “awards CDBG funds in the fall and the spring of each year. Selected through a statewide competitive process, local governments receiving CDBG funds are required to provide at least a 10 percent match in funding to complete the projects. Grant funds are allocated on an annual basis to South Carolina from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and S.C. Commerce administers the CDBG program on the state’s behalf. CDBG assists communities in providing housing, a suitable living environment and expanded economic opportunities.”

The press release further states that all grants awarded through the CDBG program must meet at least one of three objectives:

• Benefit low-to moderate-income persons.

• Aid in the prevention or elimination of slums and blighting conditions.

• Meet other urgent community needs where existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to public health and welfare and where other financial resources are not readily available to meet such needs.

For additional information on South Carolina’s CDBG program, including application guidelines and frequently asked questions, please visit www.cdbgsc.com.

By Charles Warner, Staff Reporter with The Union Daily Times