Vista Publix — a local success story


Well, it finally happened, one day this week.

To be more specific, it happened Wednesday. The thing that happened was that I went to the Publix in the Vista, the one that’s sorta kinda in the old Confederate printing plant, and there wasn’t a single available parking space.

It was lunchtime, and it being Ash Wednesday, I needed some non-meat item for my midday repast, and what would be more appropriate than lentil soup in a convenient pop-top can? Even better, Publix had Progresso soups on sale, buy-one-get-one-free. So now I’m set for Friday as well.

Anyway, while the parking lot is often crowded, that was the first time I couldn’t find any space in the lot. (Rather than continue to circle with others, I went ahead and parked next to Trustus theater.)

So congratulations to the folks who run Publix for their success. But also, congratulations to those city leaders who had the vision to promote the redevelopment of the Vista into a district that could support, and be supported by, such a supermarket, starting with the late Mayor Kirkman Finlay.

More specifically to this case, I congratulate the city leaders who, during the last decade — no longer having The State’s archives at my fingertips, it’s hard for me to be specific as to the date — agreed to help Publix redevelop that property. That involved an investment of city funds in the range of about $300,000.

For years, we on the editorial board would refer approvingly to what we called “the Publix standard” for public investment in the local economy. We adamantly opposed the hotel the city wanted to invest millions to build, own and operate, seeing that as something far better left to the private sector. But the relatively modest ante by the city in return to a much bigger private investment — and particularly one as smart as the Publix — seemed like a nice, reasonable Baby Bear sort of risk (not too big, but just right) for the city to take with tax money.

And it paid off. Which is why I had a little trouble parking to get my lentil soup on Wednesday.

88 thoughts on “Vista Publix — a local success story

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    For what it’s worth, some of the spaces formerly available to Publix shoppers are now set aside for the residences, I think. It is usually difficult to find parking there, most any time of day. yay!

  2. bud

    Here is a government success story you’ll never see the libertarians discussing because it doesn’t fit into their pre-conceived notion of how government ALWAYS fails. It will be interesting to see how Doug Ross spins this very obvious government/private sector success story. Probably some blather about “picking winners”.

    1. Doug Ross

      Yes, let’s celebrate $300K spent on a small grocery store and ignore $150 million spent on empty office buildings in Innovista. That’s about the expected success rate for government projects: 0.002%

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        What are the taxes and biz license fees received on account of the $300 K grocery store, plus the residences occupied because of said grocery store…..

        The building built at Lady and Pulaski is very successful, for example!

        1. Silence

          Weren’t the units in the building at Pulaski and Lady (Eye on Gervais, right?) sold at auction a few years ago at some pretty disappointing prices?

  3. Mark Stewart

    Kathryn hit on the real problem with that development; the residences are what went down in flames (as they should have). Did the Publix subsidy enable the financing of the residential component? The old building would have made a good office property, except for the parking issue with Publix, but residences overlooking a grocery store parking lot make absolutely no sense.

    So it still seems as though the public subsidy did exactly what public subsidies always do – allow nonsensical private sector projects to be built. I would much rather see a city invest in public infrastructure. Except that the City of Columbia has got to get out of the garage building business. If something is said to be run like a business, then government should not be in that line of work as they are fundimentaly incapable of doing it well.

    1. Steven Davis II

      You mean people had problems buying an $600,000 condos where your front door opens directly on Gervais Street?

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Which is precisely why we opposed the city running a hotel, and thank goodness that project was scrapped, and Hilton did the job instead.

    This reminds me of an archaic, 19th century expression that Mark Twain used in Connecticut Yankee — “knows enough to keep hotel.” By context, it seems to be a way of saying, “knows what he’s doing.” (Weirdly, my attempt to Google the phrase and find out more about it just leads me to Twain.)

    Anyway, we didn’t think the city knew enough to keep hotel.

    But the city did NOT try to run Publix — just gave the project a nudge — and it is a success…

    1. Silence

      How much did the city end up settling for on the hotel fiasco? Was it in the hundreds of thousands, or did it exceed a million?

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, I looked past the first page of my Google search, and was rewarded! In the Saturday, Jan. 19, 1901 edition of The Age, the newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, I found the following:

    In the States, about the highest encomium one can pay a man — or a gentleman — is to declare that “he knows enough to keep hotel” — anyone can run a corporation.

    I love finding stuff like that.

  6. Doug Ross

    Hooray! More bag boy jobs downtown! As far as I can tell, Brad, the successes you have credited to the downtown development now includes a smaller version of a typical grocery store and a hot dog stand.

    Has anyone developed anything besides service related/hospitality jobs in downtown Columbia? You remember, the whole purpose for spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Innovista?

    At this rate, I expect to see a major news announcement about a Jiffy Lube opening up downtown any day now.

    1. die deutsche Flußgabelung

      The service sector is the backbone of the modern 21st century city. We no longer put large industrial projects in downtown areas. Most urban residents pay good money not to live next to a steel mill or copper smelter. NIMBY syndrome plays a large part.

      Grocery stores tend to be built where people live like in a city’s downtown not thirty miles out on the edge of town. Having a place where people can conveniently get groceries and shop is an important part of economic development. Convenience is what attracts people to live in an area.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    You are utterly and completely missing the point, Doug. The point was that for the Vista — and by extension the Innovista — to keep growing as a live/work/play district, it needed a supermarket (and preferably, a trendier, more upscale one, which is what Publix is in this market). Now we have one, and it is obviously a vital part of the dynamism in that area.

    1. Steven Davis II

      Are we still talking Innovista? I bet by now even Pastides is hoping this failure will just go away.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’ll pose this question again:

        How can something that has barely gotten started be called a “failure?”

        As I’ve said, get back to me a generation from now on Innovista. Just as it took a generation, from Finlay’s vision, for the Vista centered around Gervais to really take off.

        If you’re saying Harris might wish those couple of buildings hadn’t been built at the beginning of an economic downturn, you might be right. Count me among the believers in the Vista who wish they hadn’t been built. And the REASON I wish that is because it caused people to form the strange notion that those buildings were Innovista, which they aren’t, never were and never were intended to be. They were intended to be a PIECE of the Innovista. But the Gamecocks’ baseball park, and for that matter, the Publix, are as much a part of the Innovista as the controversial buildings ever were.

        The concept, once again, is about leveraging two tremendous assets this community possesses — an undeveloped riverfront with an underdeveloped adjoining stretch of land, and an adjacent research university. Every little thing that goes into that area that fits as something that supports the live/work/play theme — such as Thirsty Fellow, which has promoted itself from the start as being “located in the USC Innovista area,” is a piece of the overall concept.

        1. Steven Davis II

          “How can something that has barely gotten started be called a “failure?””

          Just got started? Just got started was back when Sorenson was still alive. It’s been one failure after another. How much of the property is occupied? How much has been standing empty since they finished construction? How many tenants actually moved in before canceling their leases? Outside of the USC Athletic department’s useage the whole project has been a huge failure.

        2. Steven Davis II

          “As I’ve said, get back to me a generation from now on Innovista. ”

          30 years from now? That’s the time-frame for success? Do you think they’ll have at least one tenant by then?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            What do you mean by “tenant?” Who’s the landlord? Innovista, as envisioned, is an area roughly bounded by the river, Assembly, Blossom and Gervais. Or looked at another way, the corners are sort of the new ballpark, the State Museum, the IT-ology building, and the Carolina Coliseum. Of course, it’s not limited to that area, but that’s generally what we’re talking about, to the extent it can be physically described.

            It involves a lot of property-owners, and there will be many different kinds of arrangements for occupying all of those properties.

            I have a feeling, though, you’re still talking about those buildings that people who hate Innovista like to call “Innovista.” If that’s what you mean, last I heard, there were tenants, plural. But I haven’t kept up with it, because it has so little to do with what I’m looking for out of the Innovista.

            If those buildings are jam-packed with businesses churning out ideas and jobs, that will be great. If and when that happens, if the rest of that geographic area hasn’t grown and developed into what is envisioned, THEN Innovista will be a failure. No matter how successful those two buildings are.

            Is anybody following me here? This is really not that complicated…

          2. Steven Davis II

            So downtown Columbia is now called Innovista? How far up Main Street does it go?

            So USC moving into those empty buildings is now considered an Innovista success? I guess they have to have something to put down in their pamphlets and website.

    2. Steven Davis II

      How is this Publix trendier than the others? I’ve been in it, it’s a grocery store… I didn’t see employees wearing skinny jeans or eyebrow piercings. This place is so dynamic… I drive past the old Budget and Control Board building and see that they still have four condos for sale, same as it was a year ago. Has anyone driven down South Main at night to see if those apartments near Blossom Street have more than 50% occupancy yet?

    3. Doug Ross

      Seriously, Brad.. you celebrate very small incremental improvements and basically wave your hand at the hundreds of millions spent that proved to be a failure. In total, Innovista has been a massive failure.

      Where are the jobs? That is what Innovista was supposed to deliver.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        What I do is continue to define Innovista as what it has always been intended to be, not the extremely limited way that you want to define it.

        And I didn’t “wave my hand;” I said I wish the buildings hadn’t been built — because they cause you and others to think THAT’s what Innovista is.

        How many decades have passed since I wrote, “get back to me in a generation”? Ah. I see it’s only been an hour or so.

        It is absurd to call such a long-term, multi-faceted idea as Innovista a “failure” at this point.

    1. Steven Davis II

      I wonder what percentage of the condos are rich kid’s parents who bought them to use while Jr. is at USC and then will put it back on the market vs. long-term tenants.

  8. tired old man

    One thing I have learned living in today’s South Carolina is that most efforts to improve things or people get fiercely attacked. Whatever you think of the Innovista from a political standpoint, you have to agree that this old town looks a hell of a lot better, and it just may indeed be a much more fun place to live. Come over tomorrow morning to the Whaley Street farmer’s market with a bottle of wine and find out. And whatever you think of the Innovista, understand that a few hours on the road looking at downtowns in Augusta, Greenville, Spartanburg, and Charleston show we have a long way to go. Nevertheless, I like Thirsty Fellows and Hunter Gatherer, I like the Vista Publix as much or better than the Rosewood Publix, I like the Whaley Center for the Contempory Arts and the Whaley Street market, I like the revamped Trustus and the new Nick, and the new Gamecocks baseball stadium. I liked the mayor’s ice rink, and went by several times just because I enjoyed watching people have a good time.

    Nevertheless, attempting an intellectual argument with some folks reminds me to never argue with an idiot because after a bit onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

    One of today’s greatest vexations is that some people only want to argue. State something and they come at you tooth and nail from some degree of the ideological spectrum. Usually they go off on generalities, and when you offset those with particulars, they move on to another generality. This is repeated ad nauseum.

    You see this played out constantly on the national stage, with President Obama’s critics firing off huge, sweeping generalities. By the time a patient and accurate statement can be put together to counter, the critic moves along to another subject, ad nauseum.

    Best response is one I heard the other day: I’d like to agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.

    Another response might be to buy some people a prune juice martini. Constipated people aren’t much fun. And people seem to have the ability to be constipated at either end.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Then again, some of us suffer from logorrhoea. I accept service on that.

      Writing for a newspaper forced me to pare my writing down and squeeze out the fat. Blogging does not; in fact it encourages the opposite, as space is unlimited and there’s so little time to edit oneself. This tends to lead to prolixity.

      One nice thing about Twitter is that it’s a good exercise for those of us who’ve gotten flabby in our writing. The discipline of 140 characters is helpful. It’s like headline writing, although different in important ways. It’s not quite as restrictive, but you’re called on to be a little more descriptive than in a headline. A headline doesn’t have to tell as much of the story, because the story’s right there. With a Tweet, you either grab ’em or you don’t, so I use as much of the 140 as I can, seeking that click or reTweet…

    2. Doug Ross

      The problem, tired old man, is that you consider people who want to hold politicians accountable for spending millions of dollars as “idiots”. When it’s other people’s money, there are also some idiots who will never care how much is wasted.

      How much of whatever growth downtown is related to USC and the State House being in close proximity? Is that a sustainable growth model for the future? Do you expect Columbia to somehow catch up to Greenville or Charleston in your lifetime?

      I look at the current financial stewardship of the city and have serious questions about the long term viability.

        1. Steven Davis II

          “You are not a resident of the city.”

          Many of us were at one time, there’s a reason we’re currently not.

          “This active resident is quite happy and confident.”

          What other choice do you have?

        2. Doug Ross

          Really, Kathryn, is that the best argument you can make? “You don’t live here”? I’ve spent plenty of time downtown. I also sent plenty of my tax dollars to the state of South Carolina so I have an interest in how they are spent. When hundreds of millions of dollars are spent touting the “hydrogen economy” and it proves to be a total bust, that matters.

          Without USC and its ever expanding enrollment and all the apartments built to support that growth, much of what is happening downtown wouldn’t exist. I saw in The State that enrollment growth was over 3,000 in recent.

          Where are the real jobs? Where are the companies?

          If Costco builds at Killian Rd in Blythewood as was mentioned as one of the rumored sites in The State yesterday, doesn’t that mean more about where people want to be than a small grocery store in the Vista? Sheesh – we have an IGA AND a Food Lion in Blythewood… and I don’t see anyone trumpeting that as anything significant.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            If you live here, you get a say. That’s the way the system works. I pay more, per assessed value, than those who live outside the city limits. I have invested one hundred percent of my real estate holdings here, which is a huge percentage of my total wealth.
            If you don’t like it in the city, you can eat somewhere else! Oh, what’s that? You prefer the atmosphere downtown?

            I also put a lot of time into meetings. Even those who live outside the city are welcome to speak at the numerous public meetings…..

          2. Mark Stewart

            You won’t be getting a Costco on Killian. But I’m sure that won’t burst your bubble, Doug.

          3. Steven Davis II

            Kathryn, we eat in Columbia because it’s more convenient than driving an extra 15 minutes each way at lunchtime.

          4. Brad Warthen Post author

            You know what? I think the Bull Street property would be great for a Costco. That would be equally convenient for all parts of town, and then we wouldn’t have to hear any more about it — Bull Street would be done.

            Of course, I’m one of the philistines who would have been happy to have a Walmart at the old ballpark. I think that would have been handy.

  9. Mark Stewart

    Actually, everyone is right in this discussion.

    Innovista as a two building construction project was a failure.

    Innovista as a visionary urban development plan is, if not a success, at least a positive path forward.

    The continued construction of residential downtown is a huge plus for the city and region, and will recover from a lot of unwise projects undertaken at the height of the market.

    Basic services are necessary to create livable in-town residences – and a good grocery store is at the top of that list; they are also very difficult to draw into urban areas – so Columbia won on that.

    And Doug is right, too, that we can’t ignore the squandering of tens of millions of public money (by USC in this case) – but wrong that small victories shouldn’t be noted.

    What will be of even more interest is to watch how the Bull Street site evolves. That’s going to be the tricky one to get right.

    1. Steven Davis II

      So without the Innovista name, building a few condos and apartment complexes which brought a grocery store into the same location wouldn’t have happened without this expensive boondoggle?

  10. Scooter

    You usually do not get much for free. You have to spend to advance your city and state, and for that matter, your country. Columbia has long been a step sister to Charleston and Greenville, and certainly not even in the same family with Charlotte and Atlanta. I would like for our capital city to be more like any of those cities in opportunities and the arts and the sexiness of the architecture and day and night life! Think : arts, food, attractions, theater, living and work space! I applaud our recent Majors and some of the city and county folks and USC among others for their forward thinking and the guts to drag our city into the 21 st century, at times kicking and screaming. I do enjoy looking at the improved sky line at night and a busy Main Street during the day. Much is needed yet, but we are on a good path. If someone does not wish to pay a tad more in taxes for an improved life and surroundings, then there are many small towns in SC that would love for them to live there. For me, I like a bigger city feel.

  11. Steven Davis II

    With all this talk about how to improve downtown, has anyone been up near Columbia Mall lately? I haven’t been up there in probably a couple of years and was shocked at what a dump that part of Columbia has become with every other business shut down. It actually makes North Broad River (the land of title loans and tire and wheel shops) look good. It’s clear that Columbia is struggling to save downtown and putting all their eggs in one basket.

    The only place I’m seeing improvement is on the outskirts of the city. How many car dealers, big box stores, strip mall shops, restaurants, are moving further and further out from downtown. I realize Columbia leaders are hoping that the Vista and Innovista will turn downtown Columbia into a yuppie metropolis, but in reality it’s a college town. The majority of people living there will be between the ages of 18-25. Speaking of the Vista, has that flash in the pan sparked? Buildings in that section of Columbia are starting to look back like they did in the early 1990’s before the boom took off. Has anyone else noticed that more and more shops are shutting their doors?

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      You mean Columbia Place, the stupidest rebranding!

      Actually Decker Boulevard is humming, and, in town, check out the area around Whole Foods and the area around Trader Joe’s. Main Street is definitely picking up, too!

      1. Steven Davis II

        I drove down Main Street last week, I couldn’t tell much different than it was a year ago. Closed restaurants, an Army-Navy surplus store, a wig store, a couple of clothing stores that could double as clown clothing stores, etc… Maybe the new USC dorm (former office space) will encourage a McDonalds or Domino’s Pizza to move in.

      2. Doug Ross

        Decker Boulevard is humming? Where? Other than a Longhorn Steakhouse, it is a series of empty commercial property from Two Notch to the other end. Columbia Mall is dead, the K-mart next to it is on life support, the huge commercial area beside Columbia Mall is a wasteland, and the movie theatre next to the mall has gone out of business again.

        Population growth is moving further and further to the Northeast. Just wait til the Killian Road property (hundreds of acres right off I77) is built out…

  12. Doug Ross


    What do you know about the Costco story? Do you have information or are you speculating?

    I just find all the “downtown is the best” meme so parochial. People have been moving out of and away from downtown for the past 2+ decades. They did that for a reason.

    So when we get Brad trumpeting a full parking lot at a mini-Publix as a sign of “something important”, I just don’t see it as that big a deal. I can go to a Publix, Food Lion, Piggy Wiggly within a distance of one mile on Hardscrabble road. Their parking lots are full… that’s because so many people have chosen to move out to the Northeast. Same goes for Harbison.

  13. Kathryn Fenner

    Well, guys, I could cite the many new businesses on Main, or the numerous small businesses with an international connection on Decker, but ……

    1. Doug Ross

      What businesses with an international connection? Korean takeout and tattoo parlors? Check cashing stores? Pawn shops? We Buy Gold? Seriously, Decker Blvd from end to end is strip malls and empty buildings. The Olive Garden has been empty for at least five years and the old Target building has been empty for longer. If the DMV didn’t have an office in that abandoned mall, it would be even worse.

      Try coming out to Sandhills on a Friday night… or try to find somewhere to eat anywhere on Two Notch Rd
      north of Spring Valley. The growth is happening northeast and west of Columbia.

      1. Steven Davis II

        I find it interesting that she can cite many new businesses, but doesn’t. Those Korean stores on Decker have been there for decades. The only “new” business I can think of on Decker is the Burger King that they built about 3 years ago. If there are any new businesses it’s likely just a rename of the old business that couldn’t make it and went out of business last year… like every oriental rug shop in Columbia.

        Northeast Columbia is booming, West Lexington is booming, up along I-26 is booming… the rest of the city is stagnant.

  14. Kathryn Fenner

    We were hoping for something more like Duany suggested for Bull Street. Main, north of Elmwood but south of Sunset/Beltline has space, though….

  15. Mark Stewart

    Doug, everything about commercial real estate is speculative. Projects are only real when the doors open for business – and then the market decides whether the site selection and business proposition are compelling. And people are always being parochial – also about the beauty of the ‘burbs. Both have problems and both have benefits. Both are needed to make a city (it would help if people could just find a way to understand that if you live in the diamond between Leesville and Camden / Blythewood and Sandy Run then you live in the Cola Metro area and your fates are all bound up together).

    Kathryn, not to knock it, but North Main St. isn’t ever going to be a vibrant post-segregation retail corridor. If we are going to talk pretty pictures, Sasaki’s vision of the “innovista” area was far more compelling than Duany’s plan for Bull Street. I’d like to see USC and the City of Columbia try to adhere to Sasaki’s plan. I want to see Hughes purge all thought of Duany’s scheme from his plans. While I hope that the historic hospital structures are repurposed, I have deep concerns about how the whole thing is going to work out. My first concern is how the school zoning will play out. Everything will cascade from that factor alone.

    1. Doug Ross

      But for the downtown to be successful, doesn’t it mean that there has to be development of non-USC related businesses? sure, as enrollment has expanded, there’s been a boom in downtown apartment/condo building. But that growth won’t last forever. Innovista was supposed to be about the hydrogen economy and attracting all sorts of commercial enterprises to locate in Columbia. That hasn’t happened. In fact, the various enterprises hyped by Innovista don’t even exist. Which is why I am overyly sensitive to statements that proclaim a Publix is the sign of something other than growth in the off campus housing market. Does a new Bi Lo on Hardscrabble Road mean as much?

      It comes down one question: Where are the jobs?

      Why not try and fund software company startups? The initial startup costs are trivial. Give away the space in the Innovista buildings for free…

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      The site I am thinking of is on the border of Elmwood Park and Earlewood, where there was supposed to be a connector.

  16. barry

    How does an Army/Navy store and Wig store survive on main street? I’ve never understood that.

    Who pays their rent? Do they have a special deal with the City?

  17. Phillip

    Chacun a son gout, as they say. I think the prospects for living in central Columbia (taking a rather expansive view of what constitutes “downtown”) are excellent, with lots of exciting things on the horizon or already here. Still, I totally understand the appeal (especially for families) of getting more house for your buck, a bit more land, not wanting to live next to rowdy college students (my biggest beef with living downtown), the allure of the suburbs.

    The main point here (in talking about the positive aspects of having the Publix there, for example, what Brad started the thread with but also all the other developments downtown, options for shopping, living, entertainment, etc.) is that with the gradual transformation of various parts of central Columbia, a viable choice exists for people who want to live here. More choices are always better than fewer choices, and makes for a more interesting and enticing place to live, I think.

      1. Phillip

        Perhaps that seems obscure, but many Americans would say, au contraire! But I could have used the English words in lieu of the French ones, and I hope that I haven’t committed a faux pas here by using the French phrase on a blog where we more frequently discuss Congress’ latest impasse or debate the importance of entrepreneurs to our economy (or whether confrontation or detente with Iran is preferable). I’m not trying to be chic, nor do I think using French has a kind of cachet.

        I think this has come up before, I’m having deja vu about it, but (as I get my coat out of my armoire to go out, it’s a chilly morning) I concede that perhaps it was a gaffe on my part, putting on a facade of erudition for our small clique of blog commenters, inappropriate to this genre of writing, where we more properly debate the renaissance-or-not of downtown Columbia, or the virtues of laissez-faire economics. I only hope I haven’t sabotaged the comments section. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a rendezvous with somebody to whom I must give my resume.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Your elite patois amused me, but then….

          Phillip is hardly metrosexual/borderline gay, more’s the pity. I suppose real men don’t have vocabularies?

  18. Brad Warthen Post author

    Just to be completely pedantic, I think Phillip meant, chacun à son goût.

    French people say it. It means “to each his own,” or “different strokes for different folks,” or whatever.

    I know all of that because I Googled it. French is only slightly, very slightly, more familiar to me than Greek. And my Greek barely goes beyond Kyrie eleison.

  19. Brad Warthen Post author

    Ha-ha on that last bit, Phillip (note that I’m trying not to use the “reply” button, in order to keep my own comments in sequence — which illustrates the limitations of the “reply” button).

    One can say things in foreign and dead-language phrases without sounding pretentious, I’ve found.

    I had a professor in college — he taught me “U.S. Social and Intellectual History Before 1865,” one of my favorite courses — who provided an illustration of that.

    He had this very thick accent, out of Arkansas I believe, that, to the prejudiced ear, would make him sound less than intelligent. But he was a brilliant guy, in my estimation. In his lectures, he would frequently pose hypothetical questions to which the correct answer was “no,” and then answer himself by loudly crying, “per contra!” Except that when he said it, it came out, “pay-ur CONE-truh!” Which I always thoroughly enjoyed…

    There’s classical Latin, and there’s church Latin. Then there’s good ol’ boy Latin.

  20. Doug Ross

    How many of those approximately 100 parking spaces are taken up either by Publix employees or people using the surrounding buildings?

  21. Kathryn Fenner

    Doug, as a frequent patron of that Publix, based on people’s trajectory to and from their cars, they are shopping at Publix.

  22. Kathryn Fenner

    And, Phillip, rowdy college students are fairly easily dealt with by staying on top of calling the cops when they get out of line. The students are teachable!

    1. Mark Stewart

      But bureaucrats, sadly, are not. Of course that is just as true in the exurbs as it is in the city.

  23. susanincola

    Maybe instead of the Decker area (though I love that area — I did a “tour” of Korean food down there a couple of weeks ago), I would point to the Forest Drive/Trenholm Road area as one that has seen a number of new businesses and re-development of older areas. It has gotten so busy I don’t drive down that part of Forest at lunchtime anymore — it’s too crowded. On a Saturday it’s pretty hard to find a place in the Trenholm Plaza parking lot.

    Anecdotally, I’m talking to more folks from the suburbs who want to move downtown lately — the problem cited by them for why they don’t is the price of the real estate. But maybe that’s just in my circle of friends, I don’t know.

    1. Steven Davis II

      So this confirms that the developing areas are the “non-urban” areas of Columbia. I don’t see this type of revitalization on Main Street, anywhere near Benedict College, North Broad River Road, or anywhere along Two Notch up until you get to Sand Hill Mall.

  24. Kathryn Fenner

    Because the poorest areas of the ciy aren’t developing, this confirms that the downtown isn’t? Whatever,

    1. Steven Davis II

      Exactly. yet Columbia still wants to throw money at Main Street even though businesses don’t want to locate there. Business owners realize they can make more money where the money is… do you fault them for that? If so, then I suggest you open a store on Main Street… there are plenty of store fronts available.

      1. Silence

        There’s a few issues with redeveloping on N. Main – but Main Street is doing very well lately with some high profile developments. North Main (where the city’s been spending $$$) has a larger issue – the city’s MX-1 overlay and the fractured ownership/small parcels of land aren’t compatible with each other. The development guidelines encourage things like “walkability” with parking lots in the rear of the lot – instead of up front. Most of the parcels from the 2000 block north are relatively small lots, so they can’t be redeveloped in this way by the existing owners. The city has done some nice streetscaping, though, and businesses are starting to come back in certain areas. Success begets success, so hopefully things will come along. I’m not a big fan of mixed use zoning, though – so I’m not holding out much hope for a full scale redevelopment of the area.

        Also – The Decker Blvd “international corridor” is in Richland County. It’s not incorporated into the City of Columbia. Urban though it may seem.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, I’m with you, Silence. Seems to me that Main Street (what I think of as Main Street, the part in the City Center Partnership) is coming along pretty well — the Oak Table (in a vital new office building), the Meridian Building, Agape coming in, the redevelopment of former SCANA space, Mast General Store…

        You find small, growing businesses there, too — like the growing political consultancy Push Digital (formerly Donehue Direct), and right next to and below it The Whig, which was started by friends of my kids and has become quite the popular alehouse. Or, in that same block, the very attractive Uptown Gifts.

        That same block seemed kind of doomed a few years ago, with the closing of the Capitol Cafe and the newsstand. Different story now…

        North Main is a separate story, with completely different forces acting upon it. I don’t confuse the two, as they are entirely separate economic and political entities…

  25. Kathryn Fenner

    Yes, Brad, replying to your post way up thread, Eye on Gervais is an optical shop, no longer located on Gervais, that was located at Lady and Pulaski. The owner sold the building, which was replaced with the loft units. I do not know if they are owner occupied, but I just met some new residents there, and it is fully occupied, and there is reportedly quite a nice community within the building.

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