It’s taken decades, but finally riverfront dining is coming to Columbia.
Charleston’s The Beach Co. is building 30,000 square feet of retail space in its new Sola Station development at CanalSide, including space for two or three restaurants.
The restaurants would line the Esplanade — the public promenade atop the bluff overlooking the Columbia Canal. The location provides stunning views of the confluence of the city’s three rivers: the Saluda, the Broad and the Congaree.
“The idea was to create a destination by the river,” said The Beach Co.’s D.J. Van Slambrook.
Sola Station is the final phase of the 713-unit CanalSide apartment development at the foot of Taylor Street.
Formerly the site of the notorious Central Correctional Institution, the CanalSide will boast 1,000 residents when completed in the fourth quarter of next year. Van Slambrook said that that built-in market, along with other guests, should provide a good base for restaurateurs.
“We want them to be part of the neighborhood and be destinations as well,” he said.
Sola Station, with its riverfront views, will be the highest priced and most well-appointed of the three CanalSide neighborhoods, which will transition from more modest apartments farthest away from the river to high levels of luxury in the most desired location.
“We’re offering a lot of amenities and the views are the biggest attributes,” Van Slambrook said.
He said the prices for the Sola Station units, which range from studio apartments to three bedrooms, “will be in line with the highest quality apartments in Columbia or higher.”
As for the riverfront dining?
“Now we’re talking,” said Mike Dawson, executive director of the River Alliance, which has been tasked since the mid 1990s with spurring development – residential, retail, office and recreation – along the three rivers.
“Thinking back to 1996, everybody would look at you like you were crazy if you said that people might actually live and want to go down by the water,” he said. “And one of the first recommendations we made is we should have some dining along that canal, and it’s finally going up.”
Dan Doyle, senior vice president of The Beach Co., said riverfront retail had been the company’s goal since it purchased the property in 2006.
“It’s going to deliver a product that doesn’t exist in downtown Columbia today,” he said, “and that’s the ability to have a restaurant on the waterfront.”