Come to the Reality Check Results Summit TODAY


This is just a quick word to ask y’all to come on out to The Zone this afternoon for the following:

Growing by choice, not by chance:
Envisioning our region’s future

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Midlands is expected to grow by roughly 450,000 people in the next 30 years. That is equivalent to putting slightly more than the population of the four-county Asheville, N.C., metropolitan area into the Midlands by 2040. Will we grow by choice or by chance?

Yesterday, over four hundred diverse leaders and volunteers from business, government, the military, education, environmental, civic and other sectors came together to create a new vision for the Midlands of South Carolina.  A full release with images from Game Day can be found below.

The results of yesterday’s Reality Check Game Day will be summarized and presented tomorrow, Oct. 24, when those who participated in Game Day and the general public are invited to the Reality Check Results Summit to hear an analysis of the Game Day exercise. Attendees at the Results Summit will have the opportunity to participate in live audience polling to rank the findings.

This is the wrapup session from the Reality Check exercise on Tuesday. And just to recap this, here are a few observations about that process. (If you want a real synthesis of what happened, come to the Summit. Since I was roaming around from table to table Tweeting — which is what I was asked to do — my impressions are necessarily somewhat fragmentary.):

  • I sort of marveled that complex, three-dimensional input from so many tables could be synthesized in time to have the Results Summit so quickly. I was told that when Charlotte did this, they had the exercise, went to lunch, and got results right after that. So this is a more deliberate process by comparison. The key appears to be the coordinators at each table, taking notes on the discussions in real time, on laptops.
  • I was interested to see the wildly different patterns of the Legos representing residential and commercial development at the different tables. For instance, this group really went vertical, stacking up residential development in the downtown area. Another spread residences more broadly across the Midlands. I noticed that the table where Ryan Nevius of Sustainable Midlands was participating, there were more green spaces marked off with green yarn.
  • After the exercise, we heard a keynote speech from MItch Silver, chief planning and development officer of Raleigh. He provided a lot of food for thought going forward. He spoke of the need to prepare for the “Silver Tsunami” (in Japan, more diapers are now sold for adults than for babies), the fact that fewer young people are marrying will mean a lower demand for single-family dwellings, and a high-rise office building is way, way more valuable to a community, in terms of good jobs and tax base and intelligent land use, than a Walmart. That last is probably obvious, but he flashed up a slide that broke it down statistically, and it was pretty impressive — although I failed to get a picture of it before it moved on. Sorry.
  • What, doubters may ask, is the value of such an exercise, if nothing about the plans made at the tables is binding on participants? Also, some participants said to me, how would we pay for all these grand plans were they to be implemented? Frankly, I think the value is the process itself — people from many backgrounds in business, government and nonprofits, getting together and having a discussion about how to guide growth going forward. A lot of these people would never have such discussions about overall regional goals. Also, there’s a ULI committee that will remind participants of their discussions going forward.

Here’s more thorough coverage from The State, and here’s video from WLTX.

Anyway, come on out and hear the results later today. Here are some pictures from Tuesday…

21 thoughts on “Come to the Reality Check Results Summit TODAY

  1. Bryan Caskey

    “I sort of marveled that complex, three-dimensional input from so many tables could be synthesized so quickly as to have the Results Summit so quickly.”

    I guess Kathleen Sebelius wasn’t in charge.

  2. Doug Ross

    The development of Columbia will be driven primarily by the profit motives of those people who can benefit from the development. That is the direction it will go.

    1. Silence

      Doug, as usual you are absolutely 100% correct:
      The steering committee for the ULI Reality Check:
      Edens – commercial developer
      The Boudreaux Group – architects
      Cushman & Wakefield – commercial real estate brokers
      Nexsen Pruet – big law firm that happens to do development law & bond issues
      Estates, Inc.- developer & property mgr.
      Central Midlands COG – well, duh
      LS3P – architects
      Center for Carolina Living – magazine mostly distributed through SCPRT & state welcome centers
      Greater Columbia CoC – Bad dudes, never miss a chance to pick the taxpayer’s pocket

    2. Doug Ross

      There was no real planning done over the past two decades that saw the explosive growth in the Northeast or Harbison areas. No thought given to infrastructure until the schools and roads were overloaded. Now we’ve seen the schools in Richland 2 sink lower and lower in quality over the years because nobody ever stopped to think about how hard it is to find 100 new excellent teachers every year for 15 straight years. And when you throw up row after row of $100K houses, the quality of the students who come from those schools is statistically lower than in more expensive neighborhoods.

      I wonder if they discussed impact fees in the meeting? That’s one area that should be included in any growth discussion. Developers hate them. You mean pay for roads and schools BEFORE we put in 1000 new homes? Are you kidding?

      1. bud

        Doug, this is your utopian world of unbridled capitalism at work. That guiding hand ain’t doin’ so great now is it? But these are minor problems compared to the bigger issues of health care, decent housing and nutrition.

      2. Mark Stewart

        I am pretty sure that Harbison and the Northeast were specifically planned. Well, steered at least.

        It may not appear like it; but development is far from an unsophisticated business. It’s the (relatively) few who give the field of endeavor a bad name for the manly, unfortunately. As Silence’s list of sponsors shows, the people who want to see better, more planned and more thoughtful growth are right here among us. These are not outsiders. It’s worth remembering that.

        1. Doug Ross

          @Mark – whatever steering occurred was done by someone driving the car with the pedal to the metal. Build, build, build… 1000 homes, sure? 2000 homes, fine? More, more, more. Except no consideration was given to the impact on infrastructure, especially roads. There are few things the government is SUPPOSED to do: roads, schools, infrastructure. The local government was too focused on increasing the tax base as fast as possible rather than trying to control growth.

          1. Mark Stewart

            “Controlling growth” is neither possible nor in the wheelhouse competency of government – beyond thinking through intelligent community-wide zoning strategies.

            What needs to happen is for communities to find smart strategies to accommodate growth.

            Those are very different concepts.

            If you don’t like the way your area has developed, don’t blame the municipalities, blame your neighbors.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            One thing the speakers for ULI keep saying is that communities can and should say “no” to development — including new businesses — that don’t fit the vision for how they want to grow.

    3. bud

      It’s a shame money, profit and greed drive everything in this country and especially in South Carolina. It’s no wonder so many people do without the necessaties of life. Greed is ruining this country. Unbridled capitalism as practiced in South Carolina only makes us worse off in practically every way.

      1. Doug Ross

        The desire to make a profit built this country. Anyone not working for the government who has a job can thank capitalism for that.

  3. Phillip

    “One thing the speakers for ULI keep saying is that communities can and should say “no” to development — including new businesses — that don’t fit the vision for how they want to grow.” But that seems to be at the core of Eva Moore’s recent cover story in the FT on Mayor Benjamin…the weakening power of the neighborhoods and communities vs. the business community, the less-tangible aspects of a good place to live versus the quest for ever greater profits. So, can communities really say “no” effectively in the years ahead here?

    1. Mark Stewart

      I don’t think the established business community wants unwise/ill-considered growth either.

      It isn’t community-minded businesses that want cash advance reapers -et al- around them; it’s the politicians who typically do…

      What is shocking is just how little has been developed (or redeveloped) around the Midlands since 2009. That’s a long time of a whole lot of nothing. That in itself leads to decay…

      1. Doug Ross

        It seems like there’s a huge commercial area getting started at the Killian Road exit on I77. They’ve been putting in roads recently. Looks as large as The Village at Sandhills.

        1. Mark Stewart

          That started in 2006. Anyway, seems like just the place for commercial development of all kinds. Still, its just interstate skipping, not real growth. Too bad District One has redlined itself from residential or commercial growth along I-77. When I look at the overlay maps I am reminded of the satellite photos of the two Koreas at night. The pattern will be that stark.

          Growth is net positive new additions to the overall market, not just replacement of functionally obsolescent existing facilities. Two Notch is going to end up being one forlorn strip of asphalt by next decade. And to think Richland County wrung it’s hands over the decline over the short Decker Blvd. corridor. Greenfield development is easy, the really hard part is revitalizing the abandoned areas – especially before they are well past rock bottom. If you want to see a sustainable Midlands, the areas between the growth nodes need to be addressed more than the prime locations. Those are the areas that keep the entire region down. We wear blinders as we drive from one to another at our peril. The decay is real all around. Rearranging the deck chairs doesn’t change the list of the boat.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            I hear Sam Davis wants a Talbot’s in a new shopping center out Farrow Road, in the city. An area that struggles to keep a grocery store.

            Redeveloping out from the core, fixing up the older properties just north of Elmwood to Monticello, makes a lot more sense.


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