Company envisions private dorms flanking historic Columbia city warehouse

ccope@thestate.comJanuary 8, 2014 

The Ohio-based company that once planned to develop the Palmetto Compress warehouse into student housing wants to build apartments nearby aimed at the University of South Carolina community.

Edwards Communities is seeking approval from the city’s Design Development Review Commission on Thursday for two private dormitories with more than 700 beds on both sides of the historic warehouse. The land is being bought from the USC Development Foundation.

Another developer proposes a 120-bed student apartment complex near the warehouse at Blossom and Pulaski streets. The projects would transform the Pulaski Street corridor, which Fred Delk, with Columbia Development Corp., described as no-man’s land.

“This is the other side of the railroad track and there’s nothing there,” Delk said. “There’s not even sidewalks there now.”

The proposals come in a wave of student housing complexes that began on Bluff Road and migrated closer to the USC campus. Projects are under way or planned in the Vista and on Main Street. Demand for housing has grown as USC’s enrollment mushroomed in recent years.

Edwards Communities Development planned to redevelop the warehouse itself, but the company pulled out last year when the city agreed to purchase the building to keep it from being demolished.

The warehouse is now under contract with Palmetto Compress Preservation Developers, led by Vista businesswoman Rosie Craig.

“The interest of other developers to invest in the university (and) Innovista district, we believe, affirms the decision that the developers of the Palmetto Compress made to invest in that area,” said Toby Ward, attorney for the warehouse developer.

The land under contract for the apartments is owned the USC Development Foundation, said Russ Meekins, the foundation’s executive director. The sale required the foundation board’s approval, he said.

Meekins declined to disclose the sale price. Efforts to reach Edwards Communities were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

Meekins said Edwards projects would not compete with USC’s plans for its own student apartments just a few blocks away behind Carolina Coliseum. He said enough demand for student housing exists.

USC plans to work with a private developer for a 919-bed apartment complex. That project is still awaiting Columbia Design Development Review Commission approval.

Less than half a mile away from the Edwards Communities projects, another student housing project is proposed on the corner bounded by Pendleton, Huger, College and Pulaski streets.

The development, referred to as Pulaski Square Apartments on a city document, would have 120 beds and would contain a community building and pool.

The company proposing the complex is WC Columbia and had planned a student complex at the same spot almost a year ago.

Also nearby, Manhattan-based Park 7 Group plans a $60 million, 800-bed complex on Huger Street and Blossom Street on land owned by developer Ben Arnold. Those apartments should open in August 2015.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

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