Columbia developer Scott Garvin has purchased the former Hennessy’s Restaurant and Lounge building at the corner of Main and Blanding streets with plans to recruit a top-flight restaurant to the space.
Demolition and renovation to get the 1880’s era building back to its original core have been going on for a couple of months, with plans to wrap up the work by year’s end, Garvin said. The two-story, 15,000-square-foot building is a marvel – featuring original wood flooring, exposed, period brick and mortar with some tin ceiling and ample window lighting.
In addition to the 4,000-square-foot first and second floors, which Garvin connected by putting in stairs, the building also features a 6,000- to 7,000-square-foot basement that extends beneath the width of the city sidewalk on Blanding Street.
That space will become a subterranean courtyard for the main floor restaurant. The developer, who is president of the Garvin Design Group, said he received permission last week to remove the main sidewalk, opening the space up to the skies for dining.
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A narrower, 5-foot sidewalk with railing will run along the building edge and along Blanding Street for pedestrian passage, with access to the recessed courtyard, Garvin said. The basement may also feature a second restaurant, perhaps for breakfast, and a coffee house, he said.
The second floor will either be used for office space, or if that proves problematic because of parking availability, then apartments, he said.
“The building is one of the Columbia favorites because in the 70s and 80s, Hennessy’s was the only place to go to get a really, really nice meal,” Garvin said, as he recalled meeting his father there for meals. “It was the fancy place to eat.”
Hennessy’s closed in 2011, and the building sat vacant for five years. Garvin and a few investors purchased the building for $500,000. “I feel like I got a steal,” said Garvin, who also designed the Mast General Store building, located at the other corner of the 1600 block of Main Street.
Originally, the Hennessy’s building housed Hendrix grocery store, but was purchased in 1910 by a dealer and became Ruff’s Hardware. The building remained a hardware store for 80 years, Garvin said, undergoing a renovation and a major unveiling in 1928, then again in 1941.
Garvin is returning the building to its 1941 storefront style, presenting a simple, clean look possibly with a recessed entry and a triple-paned window.
“That’s always the key – to figure out what it was,” Garvin said. “We are going back to the 1941 version,” he said.
Doing so allows the building to qualify for historic district tax credits.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398