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vicupstate

Main St Greenville vs Main St Columbia

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But the city wants foot traffic and so they are pressuring land owners on main st. to develope their properties becuase when people come to a vacant lot they tend to turn around and walk back the way they came.

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I'm very glad you said that Brad Toy. This brings up a VERY important but somewhat subtle issue that escapes the notice of a lot of people.

In Columbia and Greenville, you have a classic example of what you are talking about. Greenville has embraced this concept and Columbia has not. That is why Greenville has been successful with Main Street redevelopment and Columbia has not.

You will notice in Greenville, that (for the most part) when skyscrapers were starting to be built, they were all sited OFF of Main Street, but nearby. This allowed the existing storefronts along Main Street to remain in place. Even though they would be vacant for many years, they were still there for refurbishment when redevelopment (starting with the Hyatt project) start to sprout in the early '80s. The Hyatt and it's convention facilities and offices served as an 'anchor' for downtown redevelopment. Later, the Peace Center created a new, southern anchor from which further redevelopment grew. With those in place, the city supplemented and augmented those with the rehab of the Westin Poinsett and Court street area. Then came the Mast General retail establishment to 'cut the distance' between the northern Hyatt anchor and the southern Westin and Peace Center anchors.

Lastly, the Falls Park and Liberty bridge have been added to extend redevelopment even further south into the West End district. The Baseball park (if it comes to fruition) will extend redevelopment thru the heart of West End.

By steering and guiding and timing the redevelopment in this way, Greenville has built the pedestrian environment in such a way that it mimics the way that a regional mall does. In a mall, the Department stores are at opposite ends, with the smaller stores in-between, with no large gaps between them. This same model still exists on Main street Greenville.

A walk from the Hyatt to the Peace Center is longer than some people would care to walk. But because the sidewalks are wide, shaded and visually appealing and there are lots of things to see and do along the way, they don't perceive it to be a long walk.

Think about it, if you were in one department store in a mall, and wanted to go to another one, would you be less inclined to walk that distance, if there was nothing in-between the two?

Columbia on the other hand, demolished it's Main Street storefronts and built it's high-rises directly on Main Street, virtually every time a new office building was built. This has resulted in small dispersed islands of store fronts in-between the street front lobbys of numerous high rise buildings (buildings which have no street level activity other than entering the building). Even some of the parking lots front directly onto Main Street. Consequently, there is no synergy between retail establishments. People park as close to the one store they want to go to, and then leave. There is no walking down the block to somewhere else because they would have to walk a considerable distance with only glass walls in between. The office buildings are only open M-F 8-6 anyway.

Today, little retail exists on Columbia's Main street, and what retail does exists, is lunch-oriented restaurants. Main Street is deserted after 6pm M-F and on weekends (except for the homeless). Meanwhile Greenville's downtown is active seven days a week including weekday evenings. Greenville's downtown continues to make steady and continuous progress while Columbia keeps re-constructing it's sidewalks and building still more office buildings. Each time, they think the latest development, will finally be the one that makes Main Street "take off", yet it never does. But that one core mistake, that Columbia continues to perpetuate, is the real reason it likely never will.

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Columbia is revdeveloping Main St. in the hopes that it takes off, it may it may not. With that said the future of the city is not vested in Main St. it's the Vista (Gervais St.), West Vista, and the River front. That is where the Research Campus will be, two museums are located there, Publix, the convention center was recently built there, the New USC baseball Stadium, Colonial Ctr., Canalside development (mix use develop.) the three rivers greenway park, etc.. It may be too late for Main St. development to hit Cola the way it did Greenville because they are two different cities. Columbia's main st. will need to have more of what's going on in the Vista if it's want's a hopping Main St.

Maybe things are different now but when I lived in Greenville Main St. was most active on the weekends, during weekday nights there was activity, but just as much as say 5points or the Vista. Columbia may be deceptive it's a large city so people aren't concerntrated to one area of town but all of DT doesn't shut down after 6pm., Main St. might.

I do understand what you mean by the old mall look of Main St. in Greenville though and it makes a lot of sense. I applaud the city for its effort of designing Main St. that way. It's just that C-lum is developing in a different way.

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Columbia has not demolished its main st. You've obviously not driven down it lately. There are plenty of stores and what not along that road. That said, Main st is not the focus of the entertainment and restaurant scene. Columbia has focued on redeveloping the Vista, which used to be a rundown warehouse district.

It is really hard to compare Main Street Greenville to Main St Columbia- they just aren't the same thing.

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Greenville definately has a better main st- but to me, the Vista and Five Points in Columbia are better as a whole. My point was just that Columbia's Main St is not dead. There are businesses and what not there- its just not the place to be like Greenville's. That said- you could compare the downtowns of the two and each one's renaissance.

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Columbia has not demolished its main st. You've obviously not driven down it lately. There are plenty of stores and what not along that road. That said, Main st is not the focus of the entertainment and restaurant scene. Columbia has focued on redeveloping the Vista, which used to be a rundown warehouse district.

It is really hard to compare Main Street Greenville to Main St Columbia- they just aren't the same thing.

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I drove down it yesterday. This is what I saw:

1) At least two store fronts (maybe three?) had been demolished between the Meridian building and the Lady Street intersection. That's two or more lost opportunities for retail/service outlets to serve Main St. 2) The one mainstay of Main Street, the Capitol newstand, was closed. It used to be open on Sundays, I guess they got tired of being the only thing open. 3) The old Wright-Johnston building fascade was saved as part of the Meridian building. But instead of using that beautiful architecture to serve as an attractive fascade for a restaurant or retail location, they glassed in the whole thing. Not only does the glass not match the architecture, but an obvious and desireable location for a restaurant/retail unit is needlessly wasted. Yes, there is a cafe or restaurant of some kind on the other, "new", side of the building, but you really have to strain to tell that it's even there. From the look of it, it is basically a "office building cafe" that probably does little if any evening business. 5) MAin Street traffic flow, which is already bad because of the ban on Left Turns, is now worse, because the brick medians prevent low-riding vehicles from crossing over to park on the opposing side. Who's "bright" idea was that? Bob Coble's?

The entire 1400 block Main Street is nothing but office buildings and a hotel entrance. Yes, I know there is a restaurant IN the hotel, but would someone walking down the street who wasn't a guest of the hotel know that? Nope.

Main Street has more storefronts closed than open, and what few are there are mostly breakfast/lunch eateries. There's also one less of them because the Sherlock Holmes pub is now closed.

You have to remember, I remember when there WAS retail on Main Street, department stores even. Not just Tapp's either, but Belk and Macy's. And no, I'm not talking about the 60's but the late '80s and early 90's. How long will it be before Lourie's calls it's quits too.

You're right, Main Street Greenville and Main Street Columbia are different! BUT THEY USE TO BE THE SAME! That is, they both use to be the primary retail center of their respective cities. Greenville has successfully reinvented it's downtown into a specialty retail/restaurant/entertainment/residential district but Columbia has turned it's Main street into an urban suburban office park. By building more residential units (to create demand) and requiring (or at least encouraging) street level commercial units in Main Street buildings, Columbia could do the same thing. However, that is not going to happen, because the Mayor and council and the city planners just don't get it! For instance, the First Citizens building could incorporate street level retail. To the best of my knowledge, they aren't.

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This is without the intent of drawing blood so I'll say this and then be done with this I guess, but Columbia is making efforts to revitalize Main St., but once again it is not the focus of Columbia's renaissance efforts, the Vista and Riverfront area is. With that said there are some residential developments either established or going up on Main St. along with it's revitalization. Capitol Places is a developmental company that was established in 98 with the sole purpose of renovating and developing apartments/lofts/condos for downtown, specifically on Main Street. One of the main draws to Main street for these developments was because of the revitalization efforts going on the location (Columbia art museum, First Citizens bank building which will have a restaraunt Capitol restaraunt, & the potential of the Long Street Theater being moved to Main St. as well. Other developments include the Tapps Building which was converted into lofts, and the Palmetto building (SC first skyscraper I think) on Main which will be converted into an 112 rm hotel. So there are some efforts to transform DT Main St. in Columbia into a lively district again, but it won't beat out the Vista and Riverfront development, not for awhile anyway?

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^Yeah I knew it was one of those theater's LOL.

It would be nice to see the Vista converge into Main St. But your right Assembley would be a incredible barrier the same thing for the Huger side of the Vista. I think at one time there was talk about a pedestrian bridge over Huger right? They would probablly have to do the same thing with Assembly, although I think that would be a bit of a stretch right now. Also I don't think Main St. Greenville vs. Main St. Columbia would put up much of a fight? Now Main St. Greenville vs. The Vista, or 5points would be more condusive to warfare. I could tell you the pros & cons of each area from my humble perspective after living in both cities.

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I'm very glad you said that Brad Toy.  This brings up a VERY important but somewhat subtle issue that escapes the notice of a lot of people.

In Columbia and Greenville, you have a classic example of what you are talking about.  Greenville has embraced this concept and Columbia has not.  That is why Greenville has been successful with Main Street redevelopment and Columbia has not.

You will notice in Greenville, that (for the most part) when skyscrapers were starting to be built, they were all sited OFF of Main Street, but nearby.  This allowed the existing storefronts along Main Street to remain in place.  Even though they would be vacant for many years, they were still there for refurbishment when redevelopment (starting with the Hyatt project) start to sprout in the early '80s.  The Hyatt and it's convention facilities and offices served as an 'anchor' for downtown redevelopment.  Later, the Peace Center created a new, southern anchor from which further redevelopment grew.  With those in place, the city supplemented and augmented those with the rehab of the Westin Poinsett and Court street area.  Then came the Mast General retail establishment to 'cut the distance' between the northern Hyatt anchor and the southern Westin and Peace Center anchors. 

Lastly, the  Falls Park and Liberty bridge have been added to extend redevelopment even further south into the West End district.  The Baseball park (if it comes to fruition) will extend redevelopment thru the heart of West End. 

By steering and guiding and timing the redevelopment in this way, Greenville has built the pedestrian environment in such a way that it mimics the way that a regional mall does.    In a mall, the Department stores are at opposite ends, with the smaller stores in-between, with no large gaps between them.  This same model still exists on Main street Greenville.

A walk from the Hyatt to the Peace Center is longer than some people would care to walk.  But because the sidewalks are wide, shaded and visually appealing and there are lots of things to see and do along the way, they don't perceive it to be a long walk.   

Think about it, if you were in one department store in a mall, and wanted to go to another one, would you be less inclined to walk that distance, if there was nothing in-between the two? 

Columbia on the other hand, demolished it's Main Street storefronts and built it's high-rises directly on Main Street, virtually every time a new office building was built.  This has resulted in small dispersed islands of store fronts in-between the street front lobbys of numerous high rise buildings (buildings which have no street level activity other than entering the building).  Even some of the parking lots front directly onto Main Street.  Consequently, there is no synergy between retail establishments.  People park as close to the one store they want to go to, and then leave.  There is no walking down the block to somewhere else because they would have to walk a considerable distance with only glass walls in between.  The office buildings are only open M-F 8-6 anyway. 

Today, little retail exists on Columbia's Main street, and what retail does exists, is lunch-oriented restaurants.  Main Street is deserted after 6pm M-F and on weekends (except for the homeless).  Meanwhile Greenville's downtown is active seven days a week including weekday evenings.  Greenville's downtown continues to make steady and continuous progress while Columbia keeps re-constructing it's sidewalks and building still more office buildings.  Each time, they think the latest development, will finally be the one that makes Main Street "take off", yet it never does.  But that one core mistake, that Columbia continues to perpetuate, is the real reason it likely never will.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Vic, the post makes some valid points about Main Street, but Main Street is all that Greenville has. Greenville has nothing to compare with the Vista or Five Points in Columbia, which are both adjacent to downtown. I give Greenville's Main Steet an edge over Columbia's in nightlife and shopping, but overall, the Vista and Five Points put Columbia head and shoulders above Greenville.

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Based on what? I have a friend from Columbia that moved here(Greenville) and he said to him Greenville was more productive in the job market and downtown. He currently lives near Furman University. Greenville only has a city limit population of 56,000; but you can't be fooled by that. Greenville is booming.

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^Yeah I knew it was one of those theater's LOL.

It would be nice to see the Vista converge into Main St. But your right Assembley would be a incredible barrier the same thing for the Huger side of the Vista. I think at one time there was talk about a pedestrian bridge over Huger right? They would probablly have to do the same thing with Assembly, although I think that would be a bit of a stretch right now. Also I don't think Main St. Greenville vs. Main St. Columbia would put up much of a fight? Now Main St. Greenville vs. The Vista, or 5points would be more condusive to warfare. I could tell you the pros & cons of each area from my humble perspective after living in both cities.

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well, thats just kind of what this discussion turned into, thus the name of the thread ;) It has done a pretty good job of comparing Greenville's successful Main st, to Columbia's less successful one. Of course, that depends on how you measure success. If its restaurants and and entertainment hub, then its Greenville. If its high commerce and business towers and this type of thing, then Columbia wins all the way.

Based on what? I have a friend from Columbia that moved here(Greenville) and he said to him Greenville was more productive in the job market and downtown. He currently lives near Furman University. Greenville only has a city limit population of 56,000; but you can't be fooled by that. Greenville is booming.

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In Columbia there is are several ways to view "downtown:"

Downtown to USC students= 5 points

Downtown to most= the area between Assembly, Bull, Gervais, Elmwood where most of the office towers are

The Vista= area west of Assembly to the river and south of Taylor to Blossom

As far as I can tell, the "actual downtown" is everything that is basicly north, northwest, and west of USC from Blossom to Elmwood to Bull St, maybe Harden. -basicly the original grid, except a few areas.

These definitions are how I see things- feel free to disagree :)

What do you mean by more productive in the job market? Columbia has a good jobmarket- A new tower was just completed and another is on the way, though it will be filled completely by FC. There are many plans for mixed use buildings and new condos/apartments all over the Vista. So I fail to see the job market thing?

City populations mean little, especially in SC. Urban Area is the best way to judge a city's size.

Columbia: 420,537

Greenville: 302,194

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...but Main Street is all that Greenville has. Greenville has nothing to compare with the Vista or Five Points in Columbia, which are both adjacent to downtown. I give Greenville's Main Steet an edge over Columbia's in nightlife and shopping, but overall, the Vista and Five Points put Columbia head and shoulders above Greenville.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What in the world was that? Taking a cheap shot at Greenville by using that argument is absolutely fruitless. You really ought to take a vacation and come up for a visit sometime. It must be the envy of our award-winning and very safe Main Street coming out. :)

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What other areas in Greenville can compare to Main st in terms of restaurant clustering and a similar atmostphere (not necessarily urban, but just a cluster that is similar in nature to Main St)?

The way I see it- the closest comparison to Main St G-ville in Columbia is the Vista.

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I don't know, not trying to make this into a pissin contest but I've lived in both places so I have taken the Pepsi challange and I prefer C-lum.

Columbia has won or has been ranked highly in several "Americas Best" list too. Not saying mines is bigger than yours just briging light to what is. I know Gville has won Main St. USA but C-lum has some recognition as well.

#1 Mid-sized college town ePodunk

#5 most creative mid-sized community, Richard Florida (Carnagie Mellon University) I believe this guy has influence into Forbes "best places" list as well.

#21 Expansion Mgt. Magazine

# 28 Forbes best places

and of course one of americas most livable cities according to mostlivable.org

So again I say we in Columbia have alot to be proud of as well! Finley park was named one of Americas best public green spaces or something like that I forgot the name of the group? I don't think all of this recognition is happening by accident? I think the word is getting out that Columbia is an OK place to call home.

I do agree with you Spartan about office towers in Columbia though! They are there for a reason! Eh, but that's just my opinion?

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well, thats just kind of what this discussion turned into, thus the name of the thread ;) It has done a pretty good job of comparing Greenville's successful Main st, to Columbia's less successful one. Of course, that depends on how you measure success. If its restaurants and and entertainment hub, then its Greenville. If its high commerce and business towers and this type of thing, then Columbia wins all the way.

In Columbia there is are several ways to view "downtown:"

Downtown to USC students= 5 points

Downtown to most= the area between Assembly, Bull, Gervais, Elmwood where most of the office towers are

The Vista= area west of Assembly to the river and south of Taylor to Blossom

As far as I can tell, the "actual downtown" is everything that is basicly north, northwest, and west of USC from Blossom to Elmwood to Bull St, maybe Harden. -basicly the original grid, except a few areas.

These definitions are how I see things- feel free to disagree :)

What do you mean by more productive in the job market? Columbia has a good jobmarket- A new tower was just completed and another is on the way, though it will be filled completely by FC. There are many plans for mixed use buildings and new condos/apartments all over the Vista. So I fail to see the job market thing?

City populations mean little, especially in SC. Urban Area is the best way to judge a city's size.

Columbia: 420,537

Greenville: 302,194

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What do I mean by productive? Look at the numbers. I don't have them, but Greenville/Spartanburg has brought more money and jobs into the state than Columbia has and has bigger developments. Ex. BMW, Michelin(USA headquarters in Greenville), ICAR(to bring 20,000+jobs) just to name a few. Plus it on the I-85 corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte. I am sure you have the numbers Spartan, post them. This seems to be turning into a pissing match.

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By the way I've always considered DT Columbia as just crossing over the Congaree River via I-126, down to Olympia, out to just past 5points, and on up to highway 277. But to me when I thought of DT that's what I though of b/c so many buildings are concerntrated in those areas.

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Downtown to USC students= 5 points

Downtown to most= the area between Assembly, Bull, Gervais, Elmwood where most of the office towers are

The Vista= area west of Assembly to the river and south of Taylor to Blossom

As far as I can tell, the "actual downtown" is everything that is basicly north, northwest, and west of USC from Blossom to Elmwood to Bull St, maybe Harden. -basicly the original grid, except a few areas.

These definitions are how I see things- feel free to disagree

Most of my experience of Downtown Columbia is The New Brooklyn Tavern, which one of these areas is that located in? That should give me some perspective of what you are talking about.

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What do I mean by productive? Look at the numbers. I don't have them, but Greenville/Spartanburg has brought more money and jobs into the state than Columbia has and has bigger developments. Ex. BMW, Michelin(USA headquarters in Greenville), ICAR(to bring 20,000+jobs) just to name a few. Plus it on the I-85 corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte. I am sure you have the numbers Spartan, post them. This seems to be turning into a pissing match.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This isn't a pissing match at all. I think its an interesting comparison of these fine cities.

I don't have those numbers at all. I wasn't sure to what context you meant productive. I thought you mean within downtown. As a region then there is no question that the Greenville area is more productive. There is no region in the state that has as many job's and people as the Upstate. The industrial might of the Upstate is unmatched in SC :)

Most of my experience of Downtown Columbia is The New Brooklyn Tavern, which one of these areas is that located in?  That should give me some perspective of what you are talking about.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think you mean the New Brookland Tavern, which is in West Cola. (West Columbia used to be called New Brookland) If I'm thinking of the right place, it is right accross the river on State St. and it has a great view of the skyline.

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Here are a few stats for everyone's enjoyment!

Columbia/Richland:

Median household income: $39,961

Per capita money income: $20,794

Persons below poverty: 13.7%

Private nonfarm establishments with paid employees: 9,265

Private nonfarm employment: 183,420

Private nonfarm employment, percent change: 4.4%

Nonemployer establishments: 17,325

Manufacturers shipments, ($1000): 3,220,723

Retail sales ($1000): 3,475,568

Retail sales per capita: $11,523

Minority-owned firms, percent of total: 20.7%

Women-owned firms, percent of total: 26.8%

Federal funds and grants ($1000): 3,307,030

Greenville/Greenville:

Median household income: $41,149

Per capita money income: $22,081

Persons below poverty, percent: 10.5%

Private nonfarm establishments with paid employees: 11,468

Private nonfarm employment: 241,202

Private nonfarm employment, percent change: -0.3%

Nonemployer establishments: 22,573

Manufacturers shipments ($1000): 9,507,470

Retail sales ($1000): 4,496,435

Retail sales per capital: $12,873

Minority-owned firms, percent of total: 1997 7.3%

Women-owned firms, percent of total: 1997 20.5%

Federal funds and grants ($1000): 1,662,497

and just for I added these too.

Greenville/Greenville

Bachelor's degree or higher, pct of persons age 25+: 26.2%

High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+: 79.5%

Columbia/Richland

Bachelor's degree or higher, pct of persons age 25+: 32.5%

High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+: 85.2%

Now there we go in black and white and from the census. So feel free to take these numbers and degrade the other area or just take them for face value?

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I guess I hit some nerves with my post.

I never intended for my post to be a comparision between Greenville and Columbia. Both cities have their pros and cons (and I've lived in both). My intention was to focus on the urban design elements (or lack thereof) between the two cities Main Streets. I think both cities are trying to accomplish the same thing for their Main Street, but only Greenville is actually getting there.

Here are my thoughts in response to the posts since mine, sorry for the randomness.

1) Thanks for posting the pics, they help a lot, especially for those not as familiar with the subject areas.

2) Columbia can still create the pedestrian village atmosphere on Main Street but not if it continues what it has been doing for decades now. Each store front that gets torn down creates another gap in the urban fabric. A missing tooth if you will. Cola's Main street has steadily progressed from retail/commercial-oriented into an office only orientation. That has got to stop, and start to reverse if Main Street is to be anything but dead after 6pm M-F.

3) Yes, some residential has come to Cola's Main St. and I applaud that. However it is too little, and the majority of it has come from one developer (Capitol Places). This should be the PRIMARY focus of Main Street development, not office buildings. The city needs to publicize the success of the existing projects and get the big guys (Edens & Avant, et al) on board too. The city should provide tax incentives to residential projects.

4) Cola's Main Street has been streetscaped at least three times that I know of since the '60s. Greenville's Main Street streetscaping was done in the '70s, and it looks better all the time. Columbia did not need to spend millions on more streetscaping. The power lines were already underground and the sidewalks widened. A fresh layer of asphlat and a few new trees should have been sufficient. That money instead should have gone to A) incentives for residential projects as I describe in #3, B) converting the Nickelodeon into a cultural venue, C) incentivizing small businesses by forgiving business licenses fees for any new business that opened on Main Street D) Additional grants and loans to rehab strorefronts on Main.

5) By doing #4, the construction work could have been done in a faction of the time, probably a couple of weekends. That would limit the negative impact to businesses. One block of Main is currently closed off completely because of the construction. That is poison to a small business.

6)Give people a reason to go to Main Street, such as specialty retail and events at the Nickelodeon. Only us urban geeks are going to go there just to see a new sidewalk.

7) A few decades back, USC students use to frequent Main St much the same way they now patronize 5 Points. Some thought should be put towards trying to lure some of them back. A huge opportunity was lost when the FBI Lawyers school was not put on Main Street. What about putting a dorm with street level retail on Main St instead of office buildings.

8) The raised median that is being put in on Main is a negative for several reasons. A) It encourages jaywalking B) It prevents use by delivery trucks (UPS,etc.) of the median for parking, which meant specially designated areas were reserved for them, thus consuming regular on-street parking (NOT a GOOD thing!) C) It makes finding a parking space even more difficult because a driver cannot easily cross over the opposing lane. There use to be HUGE light poles in that same median. It was a big mistake that the city finally corrected years later by taking them out (one of those earlier streetscaping projects). I predict the same for these raised medians, but only after the damage is already done. You can see in the pic from The State, that there at four places to legally cross in each block, that is enough.

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5- Its one block at a time which has been taking what, about 2 months per block? The reason they are redoing the streets is because they are replacing sewer or water lines and installing fiberoptics. They could just do the entire section of street at once- thoat would really cut off businesses. The sidewalks are sitll open- and while that is a deterrent, its not a complete death. You have to see the big picture :)

8- look at this:

mainstreetoverhead.gif

There is a place for delivery trucks to the left of the white building. The median thing was a bit of a controversy, but it was decided that people will jaywalk with or without it, so why not make it safer? Besides, its not so tall that you couldn't drive up on it if need be.

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Today I once again talked with someone who travels all over the state. I felt that I should ask him for his unbiased opinion on the comparison between Greenville's DT and Columbia's DT. He, like so many others I've spoken with and still others that I overhear, said that his impression in comparison is that "Columbia is much hotter and dirtier than Greenville." He also went on to say that he notices a considerable difference in the people from here and there.

This once again proves my point that Greenville is no longer just another small, meaningless city tucked away in a corner of the state, but rather a continuously emerging destination, already highly regarded among the finest cities in the world by nearly everyone who visits (including several well-known celebrities). :D

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So what exactly should Columbia do in order to try to mirror the success that Greenville has had with its Main Street? I think it should be kept in mind that Columbia already has two major entertainment districts: the Vista and Five Points.

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