Old Hardee’s demolished to make room for storage in downtown Rock Hill

An old fast food restaurant building near downtown Rock Hill has been knocked down to give builders room to temporarily store materials for the construction of a nearby park.

The city is paying for construction of the $6 million Fountain Park, as well as $6,000 – half the cost of the demolition – to bring down the former Hardee’s at the corner of Elizabeth Lane and Saluda Street.

Comporium Communications, which owns the old restaurant and land, paid for the rest of the demolition cost.

Comporium and the city are development partners in a plan to revitalize downtown Rock Hill’s eastern end, around East Main Street and Elizabeth Lane. Projects include Fountain Park, a new city-owned parking garage, a Comporium-owned office building and various road improvements.

Construction is wrapping up on the four-story office building and connected parking garage. City officials say Fountain Park will be completed by mid-November.

To finish the park, crews needed more space to store construction materials, City Manager David Vehaun said. Contractors had been staging materials near the Rock Hill Fire Department station on Black Street, he said, but they can no longer use that site.

Part of Elizabeth Lane – which is currently closed to traffic due to construction – also was being used as a staging area.

Because the city wants to re-open the street soon, Vehaun said, crews need to move building materials out of the roadway. Several downtown roads have been closed for most of the year for construction.

At a meeting with Comporium officials about two months ago, Vehaun said, he heard that the company had plans to tear down the old Hardee’s. Knowing that the city soon would need to give construction crews more material storage space, Vehaun suggested that the city help pay for the demolition and gain temporary use of the site.

Rock Hill officials hired a private contractor for the old Hardee’s demolition instead of using the city’s in-house demolition crew. Rogers Grading of Rock Hill submitted the lowest bid for the work, beating out two other contractors.

City officials chose to bid out the work, Vehaun said, because of a change in city policy made after some local businesses became upset that Rock Hill’s in-house demolition crew won a 2011 contract to remove some old buildings from downtown.

Those buildings were torn down to make way for the city and Comporium’s downtown re-development.

Then, the city’s crew was paid about $64,000 to demolish the old King funeral home, former Heirs-Clarkson insurance sales building and a small garage owned by Comporium. Other bids for the project in 2011 came in at $98,000, $127,000 and $161,000.

Some local contractors complained then that the city’s demolition crew was taking business away from them by tearing down commercial buildings. Because the Rock Hill crew seeks only to break even, the city was able to do the work for less than for-profit companies can perform demolitions.

Rock Hill’s demolition crew now is used primarily to knock down homes that have been deemed as blight, unsafe and nuisances to local neighborhoods. The cost of demolition falls to the homeowner, or a lien is placed on the property.

Vehaun said he wasn’t sure whether the city’s demolition crew could have performed the old Hardee’s demolition more cheaply than Rogers Grading.

It’s unclear what Comporium plans to use the old Hardee’s property for after the site is no longer needed for building material storage. Efforts to reach company officials have been unsuccessful.