As construction of a train depot replica has gotten underway in Blythewood's Doko Meadows Park, Blythewood residents were presented with an interesting and rare opportunity: Help decide what business should occupy the space.
The Greater Blythewood Chamber of Commerce--at the behest of the Town of Blythewood--conducted a poll among the area's citizens and chamber members as to what kind of business should be invited to make the depot its home.
"The possibilities are endless but their success depends on demand and that's why the town asked for this survey," said Mike Switzer, Blythewood Chamber's executive director.
The overwhelming majority of the survey's 100 participants were against the building being used as office space (nearly 85 percent) and 50 percent opposed the building being used as retail space. The clear winners were for the space to house a recreational business such as a bowling ally or playhouse/theater or for it to be home to a new restaurant--specifically, a steakhouse. (A coffee shop/cafe was a close second).
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"I think the survey shows that there is demand in the Blythewood town center for a nice restaurant and an indoor recreation/entertainment venue," Switzer said. "We (the town citizens and businesses) are excited about the new project and see it, along with the new amphitheater in Doko Meadows, as part of the long-awaited transformation of Blythewood to an actual town with a vibrant town center instead of just being an Interstate interchange."
The town of Blythewood was once known as Doko for its former Doko Depot--a popular stop for trains traveling between Columbia and Charlotte. The Columbia-Charlotte Railway was destroyed by Sherman in 1865 and in 1877 the town changed its name to Blythewood after a local school.
More projects are coming to the area over the next few years, Switzer added, including new streetscapes with bike lanes and sidewalks funded through the penny tax. The majority of the cost of construction of the new depot is being paid for by an economic development grant through Fairfield Electric Coop.