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The City of Lancaster received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Fifteenth Street Project. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's 74th Annual Meeting on July 12. The city won in the 5,001 - 10,000 population category. Twenty-six cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.

Lancaster's police department, as well as the sheriff's department, had both outgrown their offices and needed more space. Lancaster officials found their solution with an abandoned, dilapidated building  the city owned on the outskirts of town. Since acquiring the building in 2004, city officials could only use the 90,000 square-foot abandoned textile building as a storage facility because of inadequate water lines on the property.
Because the surrounding neighborhood desperately needed stabilization, rehabbing the building to house public safety officers would be a good start. City officials brought Lancaster County on board and soon plans developed for a multi-department facility. Officials worked together to develop plans to provide utilities to the building, For the most part, funding came from the city and county. Lancaster also received funding from Duke Energy and a Department of Commerce grant.
When the planning and fundraising efforts were completed, the building was transformed into a bustling community space for city and county services, including police, fire, EMS and public works offices. The building also has free meeting space open to civic and community groups.
A unique aspect of the project was the conversion of the third floor into an indoor training facility, which is being used by public safety departments across the state. On the third floor, Lancaster officials built a "city" with an apartment, doctor's office and convenience store, so that all facets of emergency services can prepare for almost any kind of scenario.
"The Fifteenth Street Project provided enhanced capacities for city and county staff while simultaneously creating safety and stability for a transitional neighborhood in Lancaster," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.