Student housing appears on the verge of a boom in downtown Columbia.
A North Carolina company is in talks with Columbia developer Ben Arnold to build a 600-student housing complex at the intersection of Huger and Blossom streets.
Meanwhile, an out-of-state developer is considering reviving a plan to turn the old Palmetto Compress building off Blossom Street into private dorms, according to sources familiar with the project. The developer also is mulling more student housing around the building.
Those deals are being struck as work is planned to convert the former Palmetto Center on Main Street into housing for 800 students.
Its like a great intersection that suddenly gets four fast-food restaurants, Arnold said. If its a good idea then everyone wants to do it. Its going to be a wave of student housing.
Along with total enrollment at the University of South Carolina passing 30,000 for the first time, the influx will have a positive impact on the Vista, Main Street and Five Points, said Fred Delk, executive director of Columbia Development Corp.
Think about all those University of South Carolina additional kids and money, he said.
These projects will be closer to USC and the downtown area than the cluster of student housing that sprang up several years ago along Bluff Road near I-77, several miles from the university.
That will encourage more students to walk and bike to classes and other places around town and it will spur retail growth in the area, as well as add to the tax base, Delk said.
Arnold is partnering with Monarch Ventures of Charlotte to build a six-story student housing complex, dubbed Monarch at USC, that will include amenities such as a resort-style rooftop pool, courtyard, fitness facility, gameday terrace and a tanning salon. On-site parking also is included.
This is the second project the year-old Monarch will open, chief executive Shannon King said. The other is in Conway near Coastal Carolina University. Multiple other locations are planned for next year throughout the Southeast, she said.
Columbia appealed to the company because it is an amazing college town with a premier university and a vibrant downtown, King said.
It also doesnt hurt that the location of the project is within walking distance of USCs baseball stadium, home of back-to-back 2010 and 2011 College World Series champions.
She anticipates the games would be visible from the projects gameday terrace.
Arnolds family has owned the property for decades. Development plans will be unveiled at the citys Design/Development Review Commission meeting on July 12.
The project is already in the Innovista Design District, which encourages such residential development. The vote by the commission which oversees such design aspects as height, building materials and colors will be the only city approval needed for the project.
King said the company is working with the city to make some minor changes to traffic patterns to reduce additional congestion at the site.
If approved, construction would begin in the fall and would be completed by the fall of 2013.
On Tuesday, another city board will decide on a developers proposal to put some 800 college students in the 21-story Palmetto Center on Main Street.
A zoning change by the Board of Zoning Appeals would allow the developer, Core Campus LLC, to create four-bedroom apartments within the building in the 1400 block of Main Street. Currently, a building in that section of downtown can only have three people living in a common rented space.
The building has sat empty since September 2009 when SCE&G moved its 900 employees to a suburban campus in Cayce,
City Council members, including Mayor Steve Benjamin, have said they hope the renovation and repopulation of the building will continue the momentum on Main Street, which has attracted a Mast General Store and other retailers in the past couple of years.