Each year, The State sizes up the issues for the coming year. This year, we decided to look down the road 10 years, to 2025, to mark the rapid changes happening downtown in the Capital City and project what is to come.
Downtown Columbia, the heart of the Midlands, has resumed the building boom that was interrupted by the Great Recession. It is changing so quickly that it soon could look and feel very different.
How different? And what will the Next New Columbia be like? That’s what we will be writing about in the coming year, in these key areas:
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The redevelopment of the 165-acre former S.C. State Hospital campus on Bull Street is the biggest land deal in downtown Columbia in modern history, creating a major new destination for shoppers, workers, residents and sports fans.
The student housing boom means more and more people — and more and more young people — will live downtown. And that housing is more likely to be be on upper floors of buildings offering shops and restaurants on the first floor.
The Vista, long the nightspot for 30-something commuters on their way home to Irmo, will sprout a very young vibe as it attracts more young adults in search of a walkable, vibrant neighborhood. Nightlife? More of it. Mopeds? Look out for ’em. Your apartment? It may be on the 7th floor as buildings grow up instead of out.
The fates of Main and North Main streets are inextricably linked. Both will be full of people and new businesses. North Main will be where a lot of new buildings will go in the city’s core. Can Main connect better with North Main? The Vista?
As USC gobbles up space now used for parking lots, motorists will be parking in garages. Whether drivers like it or not, land will be too valuable to use as surface parking.
More than ever before, people will be able to walk, bike, meet friends, go running, dine out and shop along the Congaree River and, in the following decade, the new Waterfront Park. Looking for a condo with a riverfront view? No problem.
With trees, sidewalks, urban planning and classroom buildings blended with retail and restaurant space, USC will become even more of an urban campus as it stretches toward the river. More than ever, it also will dominate downtown. Will a hipper campus stop the city’s brain-drain?