Nearly 300 apartments coming to prominent downtown Columbia site

07/22/2014 9:35 PM

07/22/2014 9:37 PM

A 280-unit apartment complex and mixed-use development are planned at a gateway to the Vista on one of Columbia’s most prominent pieces of land.

Office and retail space, a 680-space parking garage and a free-standing, yet-unnamed hotel are part of the plans for development of the former Kline Iron and Steel Co. site at the corner of Gervais and Huger streets, pending city approval of the project.

The high-profile site, near the S.C. State Museum and EdVenture Children’s Museum is one of the largest single parcels of available land in the Vista.

Greenville developer Homes Urban LLC is partnering with Jerry Kline, owner of the nearly 7-acre site, whose family has held the property for nine decades.

The proposed development, called Kline City Center, would approach $100 million or more in cost.

“There’s a time for everything, and this is the time” for this project, Kline said.

The apartments will target professional households seeking luxury urban living, according to the developers. The entire development will consist of five buildings, expected to range from four to six stories, plus the parking garage and green spaces.

The plans mirror an ambitious vision for the land a few years back that never materialized.

In 2006, the Kline family announced plans to develop a $120 million complex dubbed the Kline Center, with 430 condominiums, 60,000 square feet of street-level retail, an eight-story office building and a 130-room hotel. But the landowners stalled and scrapped the plans, saying the timing was wrong to build in light of the 2008 economic disaster.

The market for downtown development is booming in the city today, with more than $809 million in downtown capital investment made in the past four years, according to the mayor’s office.

“I’ve had several opportunities to do something with the property, and none of them was what I envisioned,” Kline said. “I envision something that will be not only special for me and my family, but for the community. And when people see it, they’ll feel a sense of pride.”

Construction on Kline City Center is expected to start in the first quarter of 2015. The project is also expected to include public access to the State Museum and Edventure Children’s Museum as well as additional parking for both venues.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin called the project “an exciting development for the city of Columbia.”

“It’s a perfect complement to all the exciting things that are happening along the riverfront,” he said. “It’s going to bookend a really special place. It’s going to be a center of activity in the coming years.”

Vista Guild director Sarah Lewis called the site “a place-making location” and a key factor in the city’s goal of attaining connectivity among its downtown corridors.

Homes Urban is a developer and an affiliate of Greenville-based Davis Property Group LLC.

Davis Property Group is responsible for the development of numerous apartments and condominiums in the state and along the East Coast, including The Bristol and 100 East apartment complexes in Greenville and student apartments near schools such as the University of Virginia and Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte.

The Kline property once was home to a steel fabricating mill that closed down around 10 years ago.

Homes Urban partner Russ Davis said the Kline property “has been at the top of our list” for development in Columbia.

“The combination of the site’s access to places of work, the Riverfront Park/Three Rivers Greenway, as well as the restaurant and entertainment venues in the Vista is unparalleled,” he said.

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