Chi2Midlands

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About Chi2Midlands

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  1. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Economic Notes

    This sounds good on paper, but Aflac is still controlled by the founding Amos family, and so I would assume as good corporate citizens they will keep the HQ in Columbus, GA. Also keep in mind that Columbus is as close to Atlanta as Columbia is to Charlotte, so the issue of getting to a large hub airport is a wash at best. Of course, that doesn't mean they won't expand operations here in the Midlands, it's just that I think it may be a bit unrealistic to think Aflac may move here. If we're going to land another big insurance HQ, I say we go for the moon and go after a global player. One that comes to mind is Allianz from Germany. Their current Life Insurance North American HQ is in Minneapolis, and has other operations in bigger global cities like Chicago, Dallas, LA, & New York, but if we could market Columbia as a deep insurance talent base that has lower costs and is close to Charlotte and it's already established flights to Munich (which already serves as an unofficial "BMW Shuttle" from the Upstate), it may be worth a shot. The problem with global insurance/risk management is that it is more intimately connected with global finance, and as such may see more value in locating its higher-value operations in large, established global cities like NY, London, LA, etc. This is different from manufacturing where a smaller and/or less developed but otherwise economically ambitious region can punch above their weight (as the Upstate has done very well over the last 20 years; Nashville also got Nissan to relocate its NA HQ from California) because manufacturing can find value in more greenfield locations. What that means is that if we can't get a big global player to land their North American HQ here, then at least we should try to get a large regional operation. Something like how Chase has big operation in Columbus, Ohio (a city I think we should try to emulate more). Another European insurance firm I can think of is Zurich.
  2. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Area Developments

    The current building is half of an "X" shape, so the existing structure looks like a "V" open to the south. They are building out the other half (i.e., another "V" on the north side) so that it forms the full "X". So I would imagine they will be one continuous building, but not 100% sure.
  3. Chi2Midlands

    West Columbia, Cayce & Downtown Lexington

    Well, there may be some restaurants coming to 12th Street and Cayce in general because of the traffic SCANA employees will generate (particularly around lunchtime), but the restaurants you mention (i.e., well-know national sit-down restaurant chains) really seem to follow rooftops (i.e., residential development), and more specifically newer middle-to-upper-middle-class housing. Unfortunately I don't see a whole lot of new such homebuilding coming soon, with the current state of the residential construction market. Eventually, though, I think what is needed and hopefully will come is more housing in the I-26/I-77/12th St. Extension area to support new restaurants (even though this adds to sprawl/congestion/traffic). In other words, you're probably going to need to replicate Moss Creek on a larger scale.
  4. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Area Developments

    This is great news. They basically do a lot home technology/audio-visual stuff (home theaters, sound systems, alarms, etc.). This company actually installed the security system in my house and they generally have very competent, friendly staff, so I have a good vibe about them. Their local Columbia office use to be way out in Lexington off I-20 but are now located in W. Cola near the Lexington Hospital. The initial sales contact we had was wonderful and is now higher up in business development, so they keep good people. It's Columbia's (and especially downtown's) honor to be home to such a company. May they grow by leaps and bounds and remain in Columbia!
  5. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Area Developments

    This proposed Harbison condo development is a trend I have been observing in nearly every "flagship suburban mall" in the country - the urbanization of premier suburban retail hubs. While we're a small city, the Harbison/Columbiana area is definitely "the" mall of the region. At the larger end of the scale, such as Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia near DC, the St. Louis Galleria, Old Orchard Mall north of Chicago, and of course SouthPark in Charlotte, etc., you will see development closer and closer to truer mixed-used/dense urban environments. While many of us on this board will of course prefer the "true" urbanity of downtowns with their in-place organic mixed use networks, inherent density, etc., with the population growth in the country, there will probably be a market for these condo developments. On a side note, apartments are going up fairly quickly in the Village of Sandhill, in the strip between JC Penney and the main Town Center fountain circle (i.e., from Red Bowl Asian Bistro south). So there are markets for both "greenfield" mall-condos/apartments, and "retro-fitting" of older malls.
  6. Chi2Midlands

    GSP International

    I think Portland, ME, as small as it is, is closely tied to the fat traffic markets of Boston and NYC, so carriers like JetBlue, which is focused on NYC and (to a lesser extent) Boston, can *profitably* connect those markets. Independence Air was a great product for the consumer but a terrible business plan. They simply could not get enough butts to fill their seats *profitably*. You can only go so long losing money on $49 and $59 one-way fares. I flew them a lot, and was suprised at how long they kept loss-leader fares, especially on their high-cost 50-seat regional jets (which there were scrambling to replace with more efficient 120-seat Airbus jets - but those aren't suited for small markets like GSP, Columbia, Charleston, etc.). I feel that smaller Southern cities, with a few exceptions, shouldn't hold their breath for low-fare airlines. With the current fuel cost and revenue environment, even Southwest is shying away from their traditional secondary markets and airports towards larger-market routes which have fatter revenue and market share potentials. Some places like Myrtle Beach may be able to attract some low-cost airlines if they are tourist-oriented or have some other compelling market (MYR already does have Spirit Airlines and AirTran for discount fares). Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh can still pull in from a wide passenger catchement area to fill their existing stable of low-fare seats, such that the Greenvilles, Columbias, etc. will probably continue to focus on the higher-value business market with higher fares. The silver lining is that with increasing economic development, especially foreign investment, even small Southern airports will probably experience at least modest growth in their airline connections, if only on "legacy" airlines to traditional hubs.
  7. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Area Developments

    Great to hear you had a good time in Chicago. I was actually raised in Skokie. Did you actually take the Metra (commuter rail), where the nearest stations are in adjacent Evanston or Morton Grove, or the CTA "El" (elevated) train (from Skokie it's the Yellow Line on Dempster Street - about a mile from my parents' house). If you had to move, I suppose I should be happy it's my hometown!
  8. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Area Developments

    As a native Chicagoan I'm also happy to see . As a transplanted Midlander (is that the term?) it's also good to see this flight is targeted towards burgeoning foreign investment in SC and the Midlands in particular. I would imagine this "Shanghai connection timing" is at least partially due to the Haier (Chinese appliance manufacturer) plant in Camden. This is probably common at a lot of "foreign branch plant" cities across the Sunbelt. I'm sure, for example, that one of the US Airways flights from Greenville-Spartanburg to Charlotte is specfically timed to connect with the Lufthansa (US Airways alliance partner) flight to Munich (BMW's headquarters).
  9. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Relocation

    Hi again to all - just wanted to say thanks for all the nice comments. We have indeed decided to live in NE Richland, and we're very happy to be moving to the Columbia area. Now we can talk about all the other great things to see/do in the Midlands - but that will be other topics, of course.
  10. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Relocation

    Yeah - that was my impression of what Forest Acres would be like - mature, established, pleasant, but not a lot of young couples or young families. Even if we live further up in NE Richland, it would be nice to go around Forest Acres once in a while with the more urban Richland Mall and other interesting retail emerging around there. Like I said, I'm very fond of "border 'burbs" (as my brother calls them) because many of them are becoming interesting urban areas. Where I grew up near Chicago is also changing - there are 20-story condo buildings going up about 2 miles from my parents' house. Just by looking at a map, it seems the Trenholm/Forest Drive area could be a nice near-urban commercial node. Likewise for Shandon and beyound - it seems Garners Ferry is an up-and-coming commercial area - the photos I saw for the (Shoppes at) Woodhill looked good. I'm also aware of the Village At Sandhill and it's proximity to Lake Carolina. In fact, after my wife and I drove around Lake Carolina, we drove over to the Village at Sandhill (should we abbreviate it VAS, VASH, [email protected]?) and shopped a little at the World Market there (short of having a Trader Joe's in Columbia, this is the next best thing, but I know there are local/regional places like Maggies' Market in Lake Carolina and Rosewood and EarthFare closer to the city). Unfortunately, I don't like the typical car-oriented strip development on the edges of the Village, which is what's opened up so far, but I am looking forward to the true "town center" core opening up soon. We'll have to wait and see how the complete execution plays out. I'm glad Mr. Kahn stuck to his guns and is doing a project like this in a smaller, more conservative market. It can't beat authentic, organic urban development, but for suburbia it's definitely more humane than dense big-box development around an enclosed mall. Up here in the DC area, the "town center" concept is all the rage - people seem to like developments like Reston Town Center (the granddaddy of the concept), Fairfax Corner (I was actually there yesterday), and the Rio up around Gaithersburg, MD. Columbiana Centre is very nice and all, but I was actually quite shocked to see the level of traffic around Harbison on a normal weekend (it's obvious I would have to avoid the area around Christmastime like the plague) - it was more akin to our Tysons Corner or Schaumburg/Woodfield outside Chicago than the newer town center developments. Well, regardless of what happens, I'll be coming back to here to find out more about neat, urban things in and around Columbia.
  11. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Relocation

    Forest Acres/Arcadia Lakes is the one area I haven't been in but would like to check out, at least for curiosity's sake. Location-wise it would be very good. I think most of Forest Acres is in Richland 1 (and generally has the better Richland 1 schools, I think), but the northern areas are in Richland 2. From what I've been able to gather, it is a less diverse and older area than NE Richland, but a nice, well-established neighborhood with a well-educated population. Perhaps comparable to older, maturing suburbs near DC, like a Bethesda or Arlington (with the attendant things like a stand-alone Starbucks (i.e., not inside a Barnes & Noble, organic/health-food store, etc.). The houses there seem to be older (most of them are about 25 years or older, I'd guess), but at reasonable prices for a typical 4-bedroom house that could accommodate a family of 4 (if somewhat smaller than what you could get further out in the 'burbs). My guess is that this area would be familiar to me as I grew up in such an area, but as I said, it would be nice to live with some more elbow room, especially if it's not too far of a drive. That said, I definitely want to avoid any suburbs that have a significant amount of "Stepfordness" in them.
  12. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Relocation

    I respect your advice - I myself was born in the city of Chicago, lived their for four years, and then up through high school lived in a nearby, early-post-WWII-era suburb with good schools. If I were, say, 24 or 25 and knew I wouldn't have kids for a few years, then I'd be more inclined to look at an area like Shandon. There seemed to be plenty of young couples around that area, and I'm sure we'd have enjoyed it. But now we're thinking about having a family soon, and for all the wonderful neighborhoods in the city, we'd like the chance to have some space and peace and quiet. I did look into Richland 1 schools - there are definitely some good ones like AC Flora HS, Dreher HS, and Satchel Ford Elementary, but I think Richland 2 is a better overall fit for us (keep in mind I have to balance my personal preferences with my spouses - she grew up in quiet suburban area on a 3/4 acre lot, so her preferences skew more NE Richland than even mine). I seem to like Richland 2's parents' commitment to their public schools (and I'm more pro-public school than my wife); wealthier parents in Richland 1 seem more likely to spring for private schools (which seem to be concentrated in the East/Southeast Columbia area - Heathwood, Hammond, Timmerman, etc.). Also, had the choice been only between, say Shandon and Harbison, it would have been a much easier decision. I like the fact that in Richland 2, I have the option of diverse suburbia. Again, that doesn't mean I like the ugly stretch of sprawl on Two Notch, but it's a trade-off I'm willing to make. It also doesn't mean I have anything against the other suburban areas. We're just trying to find the right balance and "sweet spot" for us. Thanks again...
  13. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Relocation

    Tell me about it - the housing market here is totally out of whack. My wife are I are lucky that we bought our townhouse four years ago. It's doubled in value since then. Even the realtors up here are admitting that the market is pricing the first-time home buyer out of the market. I've heard of at least one case of a young college graduate bailing out on a job in the DC area because she can't afford to buy any property reasonably close to work (and reasonably close here means within a 60-75 minute commute). She's looking to find something in North Carolina now. We're planning on getting exactly what we want in Columbia in terms of a house, because luckily we'll be in a position to do so. Up here in the DC area, folks will plunk down $400,000 for a piece of junk just to be in closer to work and in a good school district (some which are among the best in the nation). And it's not just the city - areas like Bethesda, MD, Arlington, VA, the Tysons-Dulles Corridor in VA, and the top notch school districts of Montgomery County, MD and Fairfax County, VA have astronomical housing prices. Around those areas, and old town house will go for $300K-$400K, a new town house will go for $500K-$600K, and a decent single family house will be anywhere from $500K for smaller, older one to $800K and up for a newer, larger one (and we're talking postage-stamp lots, of course - about a fifth of an acre or less). Further out in Loudoun/Prince William Counties, VA and Howard County, MD - it gets better in terms of price, but not by much. So many young educated families are moving to those areas (because they can't afford anything closer to DC) that their schools are rapidly catching up in performance to the inner counties. Anyways - Columbia is much friendlier to aspiring homeowners. We're very happy for that.
  14. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Relocation

    Thanks for the responses so far. I will be working in NE Columbia - around the SC-277 / Fontaine / Farrow area. For that reason I also like NE Richland - it's a no-brainer that it's closer to there. If I were working around Harbison, I would definitely consider Irmo/Dutch Fork or Lexington more, but I wanted to know if Irmo/Lexington was better enough so that it was worth the extra commute time / congestion. My guess is that, no, it's probably not worth the extra distance. However, a few of my future co-workers do live in Irmo and Lexington, and they don't take more than 20-30 minutes to get to work (I believe that may be partly because they get to work by 7 or 7:30am). Well, keep the answers coming - this is great!
  15. Chi2Midlands

    Columbia Relocation

    Hi to all at the Upstate/Midlands forum at urbanplanet.org! I'm new to this forum but have been reading all the topics voraciously. Nice to see spirited commentary about Columbia and South Carolina! Anyways, my wife and I are about to move to the Columbia area and would like to see what you folks have to say about what areas to live in. I'm originally from an older suburb near Chicago (probably roughly comparable to Forest Acres), and my wife grew up near Charlottesville, VA (her neighborhood was roughly comparable to older areas of Irmo/St. Andrews). We are currently in Northern Virginia near DC and are looking to move to a newer neighborhood with good public schools and an environment friendly for young families and couples. Moreover we are looking for a nice change from the rat race up here to a slower, calmer pace of life. We are both of Asian Indian descent and so we also wanted an area that was reasonably diverse (of course, we are not expecting Los Angeles, but we want a decent amount of acceptance of different backgrounds). I've interviewed once in Columbia and got a good tour of the city and discussed surrounding areas a bit with future co-workers. Later my wife and I made our own road trip and went just about everywhere - downtown, Vista, Five Points, Shandon, Harbison/Columbiana, Lake Murray, Two Notch/Columbia Place, Lake Carolina, and the emerging Village at Sandhill. We really liked the city and area in general and can definitely see ourselves settling down there. While I've done a lot of research and know about the good school areas (Lex/Rich 5, Lex 1, Richland 2), we really liked Lake Carolina and have heard good things about it. I've followed the discussion of "Irmo vs. Lexington", but I want you folks to extend that to Northeast Richland as well. I have a sense of the "personality" of each of these suburban areas, but I want to see what you folks have to say. For me, perhaps being a Yankee, I liked the "vibe" I felt in NE Richland. Irmo/Harbison/Lake Murray, despite seeming to have the most top-notch schools in the area if not the state, didn't appeal to me as much - it reminded me too much of Northern Virginia and areas like Schaumburg outside Chicago. Towards Lake Murray/Lexington, there didn't seem to be as many young families an children as NE Richland. Of course, I didn't like the ugly sprawl on Two Notch, and Columbia Place Mall didn't seem very safe (despite nice renovations). Finally, what say you all on the schools? Lex/Rich 5 seem the best on paper (test scores, etc.), and Lex 1 seemed up there as well. But I like Richland 2's diversity, and while not quite as good on paper, it's still quite high. I also like their interesting magnet programs. They also seem to have a different type of commitment to their public schools - they don't seem to rely on "good demographics" to create "good schools" - they just create good schools. This is not a slap against the other schools, I'm just trying to find the best fit for my future children. I read some of the comments on greatschools.net to get some impressions. Except for some overcrowding at Ridge View High, Richland 2 parents and students seem to be very happy - I saw more consistently positive comments than the other two "elite" school districts. Well, I've gone on long enough - I'll open the floor to Midlands experts/veterans.