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City exploring ‘adaptive reuse’ scenarios for Rhame Arena

Posted: July 18, 2014 1:29 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2014 5:00 a.m.
C-I file photo/

For years, the city of Camden has tried to figure out what to do about aging Rhame Arena at the corner of Broad and Bull streets. In the past, ideas have ranged from renovating the facility to tearing it down and building a replacement either on site or elsewhere in the city.

During its work session scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, Camden City Council will hear yet another set of proposals, this time surrounding the concept of “adaptive reuse.” According to a memorandum from Camden Economic Development Director Wade Luther to City Manager Mel Pearson attached to Tuesday’s work session agenda, such a project could cost between $650,000 and $1 million.

Luther wrote in the memo that council expressed an interest in alternatives for Rhame during its 2014-15 strategic planning retreat.

“The council tasked staff with looking at scenarios for Rhame Arena because 1) the condition of the asset has been deteriorating, 2) it serves as a manager gateway feature as you enter the city, 3) it provides a venue for residents and visitors alike to utilize for recreation, and 4) it provides a venue for meetings and special events for residents and visitors alike,” he wrote.

However, as Luther points out, no suitable replacement for Rhame has been identified. Instead, staff has identified redevelopment concepts that include a “dual open-air/closed arena configuration.”

“The upgraded building would maintain its ability to host recreation, community and special events,” Luther wrote, “while opening the door for uses suitable for an open-air configuration.”

Staff has also identified several grant programs that may assist with funding the adaptive reuse of Rhame Arena. They include the Kresge Foundation, which focuses on “healthy environments” that provide better access to healthy foods; the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMMP), with a goal of increasing purchase and use of locally and regionally produced foods; and a Local Food Promotion Program provided by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In other business scheduled during the work session:

• Todd Stennis, director of government affairs for Amtrak; and JarVor Williams, listed on his Facebook page as an Amtrak construction engineer, will make a presentation concerning Camden’s Amtrak station.

• Camden Archives and Museum Director Katherine Richardson will make a presentation on the museum’s new Hotel Era exhibit; a presentation will also be made by Steve VanHorn of the Friends of the Archives.

• Pearson will inform council of a roads project in the Kirkover Hills subdivision.

• Council will meet in executive session to discuss an undisclosed personnel matter.

Council will also meet Tuesday evening for its regular meeting. A highlight will be consideration of second and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the city to purchase the building atop which the King Hagler Clock Tower sits which once served as Camden City Hall and Camden’s opera house. The sale price is listed as $200,000.

In other business during the regular meeting council will consider:

• First reading of an ordinance that would rezone two properties on Church Street and a property on Clyburn Lane from B3 to B1. The three properties adjoin each other, with the Clyburn Lane property being at the corner of Church Street.

• First reading of an ordinance amending a portion of the city’s code of ordinances concern the “qualification of members” for the Price House Commission to include qualified registered voters of Kershaw County who do not necessarily live inside the city limits of Camden. Assistant to the City Manager Caitlin Corbett wrote in a memo to Pearson attached to the agenda that “Membership would benefit from all residents of Kershaw County who have an interest in the history of the Price House.”

• Reappointment of Allen Roberts, Nancy C. Wylie and William “Rusty” Major to their seats on the Camden Historic Landmarks Commission; as well as Cathy Nichols, Billie S. Jones, Frank D. Goodale, Jacquelyn M. Lovett, Hansel E. Boykin and Carolyn J. Hampton to the Camden Archives and Museum Commission.

• Approval of a Leader’s Legacy recognition bench for W. Curtis Watkins, M.D.

Tuesday’s work session will begin at 4 p.m.; the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and are open to the public.


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