Copper Beech Townhomes, one of the first in the current wave of private student housing complexes in Columbia, was sold at auction last week in a foreclosure sale, Richland County court officials said.
The 1,002-bedroom complex, off Bluff Road near Interstate 77, was purchased by Southern Drive LLC for $22 million, according to Joseph P. Strickland, Richland County Master in Equity.
Southern Drive, a Delaware-based company, sued the previous owners, Copper Beech Townhome Communities Twenty-Five LLC, for nonpayment, court records show.
The complex, which opened in 2007, will remain open and rebrand itself, according to its new management company, Southern Management Partners.
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“Copper Beech will soon have the new name The Southern @1051,” said Angela L. Smith, a Southern Management partner, in an email to The State newspaper.
“With the change in ownership ... the students will experience all of the excitement and energy of the rebranding, renovation of the student center and pool, fun-filled community events for the students, bus/shuttle service for the students to USC, Benedict (College) and Allen (University) along with many other additional enhancements,” Smith said.
Copper Beech Townhomes is a sprawling, gated residential community built on a former industrial site between Bluff Road and Shop Road. Designed to appeal to college students, the complex is spacious and features a large swimming pool.
But occupancy rates have struggled at the complex as new student housing offerings closer to the city have continued to be erected since 2007. Last year in August, Copper Beech had a 40 percent occupancy rate, management officials there said. The previous year, in 2015, the occupancy rate was 100 percent, the company reported.
Southern Management has run Copper Beech since October, Smith said. The current occupancy rate is 50 percent, she said.
A mile away in Arthurtown, The Retreat, a gated community closer to downtown and USC, has a full house, according to leasing agent Austin Ward. Occupancy in the 169-cottage, 664-bed complex is 100 percent, he said. The complex rents both to students and nonstudents, though nonstudents have to meet a stringent set of guidelines, he said.
Preleasing for the upcoming school year is 72.2 percent full, with 186 renewals and 294 new leases – 12 so far this week, Ward said.
A mile farther toward town, Stadium Suites, a 264-unit, 924-bed complex next to the South Carolina National Guard compound, has a 97.2 percent current occupancy rate, an agent there said Tuesday. Stadium Suites rents only to students and military members, the agent said.
Copper Beech Townhomes is about 4.5 miles from the Russell House at USC and just more than two miles from Williams-Brice Stadium. Several housing developments aimed at college and young professionals have gone up in town nearer to USC and the downtown since 2007, particularly between Assembly Street and Huger Street, from the Vista east to Rosewood Drive, with construction continuing.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398