The Five Points Association has issued a statement opposing a drive-up window at the old Harper’s location, which would pave the way for a fast food chicken restaurant.
Zaxby’s wants to build a franchise at the corner of Harden and Devine streets. However, the association said it would mar the character of “lower Five Points.”
“This possibility will lead to a tipping point in the history of Five Points – a significant head nod to how Five Points will develop in the future,” executive director Amy Beth Franks said in a press release.
“A fast food drive-thru, and the traffic it creates, would have a major impact on the context and feel of this historic, neighborhood village,” she added. “By introducing a fast food drive-thru in lower Five Points, Five Points would be moving away from the Future Five Master Plan and Design Overlay, which was endorsed and implemented by City Council in August 2006.”
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Franks could not be reached for additional comment.
The issue is scheduled to be debated before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday. Franchise owners Jim and Britt Poston said they plan to proceed with the hearing.
“We’ll go to the hearing and just present our case for an exception and see how it goes,” Britt Poston said. “We’re fast casual and we don’t think that it would impact traffic at all, no more than Harper’s would impact traffic.”
The Postons, who live in Florence, have applied for a special exception to install a drive-thru window in the former sit-down restaurant, which was a Five Points landmark until it closed in May.
The drive-thru would be on the same wall as the Five Points mural painted by artist Blue Sky. However, the window would not mar the painting, according to Columbia deputy zoning administrator Rachel Bailey.
Harper’s, which served steaks, barbecue and American fare for 27 years, was the second high-end dining location to close in the urban village near the University of South Carolina in recent years. Garibaldi’s, a white-tablecloth Italian and seafood restaurant, closed in 2015.
In May, two other restaurants — El Burrito and Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop — also closed.
The Postons operate 19 Zaxby’s, all in South Carolina. They have stores in Myrtle Beach, Florence, Sumter, Orangeburg and Columbia.