Fort Mill Times

Downtown Fort Mill landmark torn down

Olson Development tore down the old Post Office building at the corner of Springs and Tom Hall streets over the weekend to make way for a new three-story building.
Olson Development tore down the old Post Office building at the corner of Springs and Tom Hall streets over the weekend to make way for a new three-story building.

Another downtown building came down this weekend, but unlike the last two that fell, this one was not a victim of fire.

Rather, it is a sign of new life.

From the rubble of the old Post Office building at the corner of Springs and Tom Hall streets, developer Kent Olson plans to erect a three-story office and retail complex, according to Lynette Glenn, a realtor involved with the project. Glenn and Olson hope to attract a restaurant tenant and some retailers to the ground floor of the planned 20,000-square-foot building. The upper floors will be used for office space.

"We really want to celebrate Fort Mill," Glenn said. "We want to respect the historic aspect, but also bring in something nice and fresh to Fort Mill."

Olson said he hopes to capitalize on the redevelopment work Fort Mill and private owners have already begun in the downtown area. The town spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to repave and reline the parking lots behind both sides of Main Street and the town plans to spend thousands more on crosswalks and streetscape improvements along the town's traditional business corridor. It is also working on a partnership with Chip Smith of Process Equipment to redevelop the theater at the corner of Main and Academy streets.

In recent years, some downtown property owners have taken steps to update and reuse old buildings, including the former home of Southern Auctions, which is now the location of The Gym at 214 Main. Southern Management, the Fort Mill School District's construction consultant, bought the building that used to house Fort Mill Community Church, and is renovating the upstairs for an office and will look to rent out the first floor to a retail business.

Other property owners, such as Pete Lang of Conservation by Design, built an entirely new building.

Olson's building won't be the only new construction going up in downtown. S.E. Miller Construction owns the open lot across Springs Street from Olson's property and announced plans to build a multistory mixed use building on the lot after the 1890s era home on the site was torn down two years ago. However, S.E. MIller President Shannon Miller said at the time that redevelopment of the property probably wouldn't happen for a few years.

A short distance away, Fort Mill attorney Bayles Mack, who owns several properties downtown, plans to rebuild on the former site of Tony's Pizza, which burned down more than a year ago. That project is scheduled to be done in conjunction with plans to redevelop part of Confederate Park, and will include a multistory building with a restaurant or retail on the first floor and either offices or apartments upstairs.

And just across the railroad tracks Fort Mill is working with Lang's firm to develop a mixed-use project on approximately two acres it is leasing from Springs Global.

Olson has not decided on a name for his new project. According to Glenn, he wants to involve the entire town in the process.

"We're going to host a contest for Fort Mill to name the project and building," Glenn said. "It will remain nameless until Fort Mill names it."

Town residents will be able to submit their suggested name by e-mail to Suggestions should be approximately 100 words and detail why that name is the best. Entries are limited to one per person, and there will be a limited time in which to submit names, though a deadline has not been set yet, Glenn said. Olson, Glenn, Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk and Planning Director Andy Merrimann will serve as judges.

In addition to the corner lot, Olson also owns two to three acres behind the lot and neighboring businesses along Tom Hall Street, an area covered by Fort Mill's Tom Hall Corridor Overlay District.