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Preservation project builds trust, value


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Inn at USC shows value of preservation

I am posting this in SC rather than Columbia because this article illustrates three very important aspects of this project specifically, but also for preservation in general.

1) Preservation of historic structures provides uniqueness and character. Things that can't just be built on demand.

“What people talk about is the Black House,” Pooser said. “It is what is unique. People talk about those three beautiful suites. I’ve built 42 hotels and I tend to think about the debt service.”

Pooser, whose IMIC Hotels company is building and managing the $13 million facility, said the renovation of the house, with its mahogany-paneled entrance and three special suites upstairs, has made the hotel special in ways unparalleled by most.

2) Preservation offers a great way to blend the old with the new not only in architecture, but also in blending two seemingly incompatible uses (a residential neighborhood and a university).

Black’s former home is now the lobby of the Inn at USC, salvaged in 2003 from the wrecking ball at the insistence of the city and preservationists, and turned into a showplace for its eclectic 1913 architecture.

The melding of the Black House with the new Inn at USC is symbolic of the healing of this long fight between institution and community.

3) NIMBY's, as they are dismissively called, often have valid and useful points. Listening to them and making adjustments accordingly, often results in a win-win for all involved.

USC on Wednesday will officially open the Inn at USC, a 117-room hotel on its campus that in many ways represents the healing of a fight over the expansion of the campus into one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.

When Andrew Sorensen became president of the university in 2002, he lived in the neighborhood for two years while the president’s on-campus residence was renovated. Today, he says settling the fight over the hotel has been one of his most important accomplishments.

Robin Waites, director of Historic Columbia, said the hotel is “proof you can take existing buildings and find new uses.” She said the long-running dispute had ended “very positively.”

Kudos to Sorenson and USC, this is a nice change from the Palms/McGee attitude. Kudos also for the city and University neighborhood for not buckling under pressure from USC to demolish the historic house.

BTW, there is a video of this building on www.thestate.com, it is a very beautiful hotel.

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