Developers unveil new plans for controversial Crickentree redevelopment

A large crowd was in attendance at the developer’s meeting. Jeanne Reynolds photos.

Representatives from investment firm ECapital unveiled a revised proposal for a housing development on the former Crickentree golf course property before a packed house at Doko Manor in Blythewood Thursday evening.

The new plan shows approximately 250 home lots – down from the 480 in the original proposal – with an increased natural buffer area between the new development and the existing neighborhood homes. The homes are clustered closer together on smaller lots to allow more open space, the developers said. The buffer area would be deeded as open space to the homeowners’ association of the new development, which would then be responsible for maintaining it.

Many of the estimated 200 area residents at the meeting voiced continued concerns about the plan, including loss of property values, increased traffic congestion, overburdened schools and lack of storm water drainage when much of the golf course land is hard-paved.

Richland County doesn’t appear to have a clear plan for development and needed infrastructure, said area resident Jerry Rega. “We need to put a moratorium on new construction until Richland County figures out what the heck is going on,” Rega said at the meeting.

Other residents at the meeting said the proposed development won’t benefit the county financially because the developer is based in Texas. “These (ECapital) people are going to go back to Dallas with $3-4 million in their bags and we’re going to lose $3-4 million in our property values,” Crickentree resident Larry Ellis said.

“There’s no value in rezoning for anyone in this room except the people up front,” Rega added.
The property is currently zoned as Traditional Recreational Open Space, which doesn’t permit construction of homes. ECapital is expected to submit a proposal to the Richland County Planning Commission to rezone the property in the next several weeks.

ECapital bought the mortgage on the golf course and closed it last July, citing financial problems with its continued operation. The mortgage was foreclosed in August and ECapital bought the property for a reported $1 million in a public auction last fall.

Although Crickentree is not within Blythewood’s city limits, mayor Mike Ross told the crowd traffic and infrastructure is also the town’s biggest concern. “We don’t want any more people coming down Langford Road trying to get to I-77,” he said.

Ross proposed an alternative plan to convert the golf course space into a county park with soccer fields, walking paths, bike trails and other amenities. He said preliminary talks are underway with the Richland County Recreation Commission to buy the property.

Categories: Blythewood, Business, Richland County