Friday, June 12, 2015

Reasons the VA Building in Columbia Will Become a Parking Lot

The VA office at the corner of Laurel and Assembly street might become a parking lot.
The federal government plans to demolish the former Veterans Affairs regional office in downtown Columbia to make way for a parking lot, a move that upsets Mayor Steve Benjamin.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The agency moved its 400-employee regional office to a new site off Garners Ferry Road in 2009. But some call center employees originally remained in the five-story, 67-year-old building, at the corner of Assembly and Laurel streets near downtown’s main post office.

The U.S. General Services Administration, the landlord for federal buildings, is seeking bids for $2 million to $3 million in work to tear down and grade the downtown site to “create new surface suitable for a future parking lot,” according to a proposal.Now, however, the building is empty.
First of all, I've been taking both of my children to the Strom Thurmond Federal Building (adjacent to this VA Building) for about the last three years. I had no idea that the VA building was completely empty. I mean, I never saw anyone coming in or out, but I just kind of figured a huge office building in downtown Columbia would be in use. So, that just blow my mind.

As for the parking lot idea, I spoke with one of the security personnel at the Strom Thurmond Federal Building about it. He said that GSA wants to make it a parking lot because (1) parking lots are cheaper to maintain than buildings; (2) they are good from a security standpoint; and (3) it will likely be used to allow the parents of children at the day-care at the Strom Thurmond Federal Building to have some dedicated parking for pick-up and drop-off. This is all from my first hand conversation with a security guard at the Strom Thurmond Federal Building. He told me all this, and then concluded with "I really wish they would just put a place to eat there. There's nowhere around here to get a hot meal."

So that and my kids.

In any event, I thought I would at least pass along what I heard from the federal folks. I know that most Columbia residents aren't thrilled with the idea of a parking lot right there, but I'm pretty sure the federal government doesn't really care about what anyone around here thinks.
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