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Revitalizing West Columbia


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I've got a soft spot for West Columbia. I grew up in West Columbia. My mom was born in West Columbia. My grandparents lived in West Columbia most of their lives -- they moved from the Dutch Fork area to live near the city where my grandfather worked. I'd really love to see it become a fully revitalized, walkable, livable, little sibling to Columbia. I don't know about the level of familiarity here with W. Cola., but I thought I'd throw out a few ideas that I think could jump-start renewal. You may need your maps for this one... :)

- Already there: Riverwalk

- Being developed/planned: High-end riverfront and Meeting St. residential -- along the riverbank and on Meeting, across from Al's Upstairs.

- State Street should continue to develop as a kind of funky alternative to the Vista.

- I'd like to see the mill hill area (between State and Alexander) become State Street's residential counterpart -- homes fully restored with a funky, bohemian vibe.

- Meeting Street/Augusta Rd./US1 beautification. Done in phases (the first being from the river to 9th street), all the way out to where Jarvis Clapman begins. Crosswalks and human scale are key -- especially in the area from Charleston Hwy. /21 to St. Street.

- Boot the friggin' Chicken plant. Insanity. Columbia Farms has got to go. This would clear the way for revitalization and riverfront development along Sunset.

- Level the Capitol Square strip mall and outlying parcels at Sunset and State. Redevelop the area, linking a small grid to Leaphart St. (and the deteriorated area between Meeting & Klapman [there are a couple of really cool old houses here]). Build live-work village and mini-entertainment district. Live-work and green space on the interior. Bring storefronts out to the street. On-street parking on the interior grid and small surface lots tucked away behind the main buildings. This area could accomodate a small-ish multiplex movie theater.

- The area between Klapman and Meeting, east of 9th street would become more desirable and it could be redeveloped as a traditional neighborhood, preserving existing old homes and building-out with bungalow-style dwellings.

- Triangle City revitalization. Think Five Points & Devine St. area with a more blue collar and multi-ethnic vibe. It would be great if the Hispanic community could play a major role in this. In terms of design... it could have a really relaxed, kind of whimiscal style with some retro mod flavor -- congruous with Zesto's and some other structures in the area.

- Demolish the printing company building and attached strip at the corner of 12th St. and Augusta/US1. (behind Bojangles) -- formerly Family Mart or some such. Restore the Horseshoe Pond and build a large community park here with a bandshell. Redevelop both sides of 12th St. with storefronts. This would link a redeveloped Triangle City with the new City Hall area.

- Restore the old Colite building(s) along Senn St. (behind Horseshoe Pond) as a community center and/or artists space, and industrial-design lofts. Bring back the old clock/temperature sign. :)

- I realize this area is unincorporated (or at least it was when the map I'm looking at was made), but the Moffat Ave. neighborhood (just west of where Jarvis Klapman goes over 378) could be really neat. It's very run down, but the homes could be cute and the neighborhood is *right* on the river.

I know there are some pretty decayed and mis-developed/dysfunctional areas, but I do feel like West Columbia has great potential. One of the cooler things being potential for real diversity.

Feel free to comment/critique these ideas and contribute your own. I might try to add some pics at a later date.

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Additionally, if anyone wants to check out a neat little tree-lined street in West Columbia... cruise down Jensen Street. It's down Senn St., past the Colite building. The surrounding area is run down, but it still may be the neatest-looking oak-lined street in West Columbia. The houses aren't all that special, except that they're well-preserved, vintage homes from the early 1950s. But the neat thing is the mature, dense oaks that line the street. Really cool.

That area was really mutilated when they built Jarvis Klapman and when they drained the Horseshoe Pond to build a strip shopping center. That's a shame too because it was really charming. It could be again if they followed my plan! :)

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The problem I see with West Columbia is that the main roads in the area look trashy. Meeting St and the buildings that line it look run down.... it gives the city a bad impression to passers by.

I want to see that area be revitalized. I believe that as the city harnesses the the river, the positive effects will spread.

I want to see Triangle City become an entertainment/restaurant district with a 5points type atmostphere.

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I'm old enough to remember when Triangle City was a thriving retail district. Growing up in the late 60s,and through the 70s, I have fond memories of Marty's Toy Town, the lunch counter at McDaniels Drugs, Dodd's Dime Store, Todd & Moore Sports, Maryland Fried Chicken, Fogles Food City, Triangle Pharmacy, and, of course, Zesto. Now only Zesto remains...

I also remember Horseshoe Pond and the old Colite time/temp sign. It would be lovely to see that restored as a community amenity.

I agree that West Columbia has an overall trashy look for the most part, but it is the only suburb, other than Cayce in a few areas, that has older urban development from the 1930s and 40s, which has huge charm potential. If I had any money to invest in real estate in the Columbia area, I would buy several properties in the older areas of W. Cola and rehab them.

I am very opposed to the new "high end" development for the Riverwalk area. I think that a small, gated housing development there is a horrid waste of prime real estate. That area should be used to either enlarge the park, or ,conditions permitting, for a really terrific 8-10 story residential building that would help generate more population density for that area.

Some great ideas you have there Emerging Me. Now get busy and run for town council!

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Ha! I don't even live there anymore. :) But we are thinking of moving back... maybe the Avenues. Property values there are really shooting up.

Remember when Zesto's used to just be a screened-in place that you walked-up to? Crazy.  I have vague memories of that when I was really little -- late '70s.

While we are on the subject of that area... Did you ever eat at Luigi's??


I do remember when Zesto's was not as large as it is today. My memory was that they always had a small dining room attached, but not the large one that they have today. In elementary school, my treat for a good report card was a banana split at Zesto's with my grandparents.

Luigi's doesn't ring a bell is/was it in Triangle City? I use to go to What A Burger and Ed's Drive-In in high school for burgers. I also attended Lad-n-Lassie Kindergarten just off Meeting (?) Street, next to the old post office, just a few blocks away from Triangle City.

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