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Downtown Columbia Growing

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From TheState.com...

Downtown Columbia growing

New construction and new owners of existing buildings have downtown Columbia on the watch list of commercial real estate people.

More than a half-million square feet of new office space will have been added to the Columbia market when First Citizens new bank headquarters is completed at Lady and Main streets, said Paul Hartley of Edens and Avant Real Estate Services.

The new Meridian Building just across the street added 350,000 square feet when it opened earlier this year.

The First Citizens building will add an additional 170,000 square feet when it opens in 2006. The bank has not said whether it will lease any of the space, Hartley said.

Columbia has 8 million square feet of office space, with 56 percent in the central business district, Hartley said. The occupancy rate in the central business district is 83 percent.

In addition to new construction, a Chicago-based company has sold two downtown buildings in the past year and will sell another. Trizec Properties:

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Just for some visual support... here's the new FC HQ...

72544755914.gif

It's a big dirt hole right now, but they're starting to make some progress with the construction. Main Street is really shaping up. I can't imagine what the city center is going to look like in 5 years. It's a good time to be an urban enthusiast in Columbia... :)

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What I would like to see is Columbia's downtown compare to Greenville. While the Vista and 5-points are the places to go for food and bars, downtown would be awesome if it were packed with people and lined with upscale and family restuarants.

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These office towers that are going up need to incorporate streetlevel retail space like the Wachovia tower in Greenville. Main St is in a bad way right now... Once the new streetscaping is done it will likely improve.

The new look:

cityColumbiaSC_mainstreetoverhead.gif

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I would love to see the old Arcade -- next to Meridian -- redeveloped with some neat stuff. I know this has been discussed for years, but I don't know what the current status is. Could be a really cool place.

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Isn't it crazy? I found out about it a couple of years ago, but just recently went and took a look myself -- just peeked in the door since it was closed.

And who knew Columbia had an Underground??! :)

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Is retail really coming back to Main Street? There's been a lot of residential growth there in the last couple of years. The city has tried again and again to grow Main Street businesses after work and it's always been a failure. This is the third revitalization there in the last 15 years or so. I mean even Capital News is almost bust. The Frog did well until the last revitalization sidewalk eroded their ceiling..I guess they are gone too. Anyone know of a main street census? Is there enough of a population to grow after dark businesses?

And what is in underground Columbia these days? A neat place where businesses always seemed to die. I've not been down there in several years now. I've been thru many times and it was always a quick walk..nothing to hold my interest.

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I dont' think there's anything in the "underground." I've lived here all my life (29 yrs) and I didn't even know it existed until a couple of years ago. The whole idea of it sounds cool though. I think people would turn out if they revitalized the Arcade and underground -- the new revitalization is really great. It's really setting the stage for the people to get down there on foot. I know there are a couple of new businesses that have opened. Cobalt 27 is probably the best example -- it's a clothing store that sells hip designer threads (and they're open late, which is a nice trend to see starting down there).

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Is retail really coming back to Main Street? There's been a lot of residential growth there in the last couple of years. The city has tried again and again to grow Main Street businesses after work and it's always been a failure. This is the third revitalization there in the last 15 years or so. I mean even Capital News is almost bust. The Frog did well until the last revitalization sidewalk eroded their ceiling..I guess they are gone too.  Anyone know of a main street census? Is there enough of a population to grow after dark businesses?

And what is in underground Columbia these days? A neat place where businesses always seemed to die. I've not been down there in several years now. I've been thru many times and it was always a quick walk..nothing to hold my interest.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Don't you think that as the residential numbers increase, the demand for restaurants and other services on Main st will increase too?

The Columbia Underground ought to look at Atlanta's underground as a model, which has been very successful as far as I know.

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What I intended to say is for Main St retail to grow there has to be a population there to support it. Either close by or willing to come downtown. Several years back the city began focusing on residential growth there. Most retail over time has failed. Macy's was a great store but nobody would come down to shop. Lourie's is long gone despite very loyal customers, Frog & Brassiere closed up, that seafood place across from city hall too where the Elite Epicurean was. Even Chick-Fil-A closes at night. The museum and residents are improving the area and maybe demand will grow. But for retail/restaurants to grow there needs to be day and night business with some predictable demand. If I was going to open a new restaurant I'd located in the midst of others down in the vista where people outside the area will come to eat and compete. It's hard to lure diners from out of the area to Main Street at night now. The attitude may change wth more residents and when the street work is finished. I do notice more cars on Main after dark in the last year. But until recently it was dead and very dark down there at night!

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I know what you mean. Jammin' Java and Rising High have both done really well though. If I were starting a new business down there, I'd look to them as a model -- of course they have the advantage of being located across from the art museum, but still. :)

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WISTV.com has a story today that speaks to a few of our recent talking points...

Columbia looks to streetscaping project to revitalize downtown

(Columbia) Dec. 1, 2004 - When Clark Covington decided to open an upscale boutique, he knew exactly where it needed to go, "We picked this location because the metropolitan area, the downtown area really symbolizes what we're all about, what our clothing is about, which is kind of urban, edgy, guys and girls."

He said business is picking up each month after seven months, "Sales have been a lot better since the holiday has started. We are happy about that. The more people know about us being downtown here on Main Street it will get better."

Matt Kennell with City Center Partnership says if you want to know what is happening in downtown Columbia, look at Cobalt's success, not the empty space in the building, "We're always disappointed when a business goes out, but I think the whole purpose of the construction work going on downtown with the streetscaping is to bring in new businesses and I think it's doing that.

Downtown is gaining more businesses than losing. Four new ones have opened up in the past year and three others are in the works, plus the 200 apartments are full. Covington says investment like that points to a bright future for his store, "A lot of people enjoy us being here and we enjoy being here too."

The key to getting more businesses is the streetscaping project, but it's not expected to be finished until early 2006.

By Catherine Reynolds

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We briefly discussed "underground" Columbia/The Equitable Arcade in this thread and I wanted to add something that I found in my files. I pulled it from the now-defunct Free Times forums years ago. Original poster unknown..

Built a week before the Titanic sunk in 1912, The Equitable Arcade building at 1332 Main St. was the first indoor mall in Columbia, SC. The three-story building which forms an

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Thanks for posting that info. I wish they would open up the Underground again. The war portests have been over for a while now :) That woudl be an extremely cool place to go. Perhaps it could fuel some retail growth along Main st.

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The Arcade could and should be a primary focus of Main Street revitialization. The fire codes of today would make using the basement difficult, but with enough money, it could be done.

Unfortunately, I don't see anything happening with this space anytime soon.

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It's sad to see such a neat structure fall into disrepair. I hope something can be done to revitalize it.

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