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Prepare to be amazed in Columbia 2017

The new year is a time to reset and plan ahead. As we leave 2016 behind, we look toward what’s coming in 2017. Here’s what we’re looking forward to:


The eclipse

At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, Columbia will be one of the top five places in the country to witness a rare total solar eclipse.

NASA estimates that South Carolina could see as many as 1 million visitors – if the weather forecast is clear – because it will be the nearest metropolitan area within the path of totality on the East Coast.

In addition to the longest totality, Columbia plans to make itself an eclipse destination by creating a weekendlong celebration throughout the Midlands with eclipse-related events, workshops and viewing parties.

Gerry Melendez gmelendez@thestate.com

New developments on Bull Street

We’re more than two years into redeveloping the 181-acre former State Hospital campus on Bull Street, and developments and renovations will continue in 2017.

The Bakery at BullStreet is already home to computer coding school The Iron Yard Columbia and co-working space SOCO and represents the first phase of the planned BullStreet Technology Village.

A 10-screen cinema, which will also include a bar and full-service restaurant, is expected to be completed by summer of 2018.

The University of South Carolina plans to build a new $80 million medical school there, slated to open in 2020.

Other pending projects include a 234-bed student housing project.

Salvador Dalí’s “A Mad Tea Party” THE FRESNO (California) BEE File photo

Museum exhibits

From March to May, the Columbia Museum of Art will feature 26 works from surrealist artist Salvador Dali (iconic melting clocks included). “Salvador Dalí’s Fantastical Fairy Tales” continues the museum’s span of popular shows in its main gallery, which has housed works by Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz and Mark Rothko in recent years.

The South Carolina State Museum’s next blockbuster exhibit, “Savage Ancient Seas,” will explore the world of marine reptiles that were swimming off our shores 70 million years ago. That includes gigantic flesh-eating fish big enough to swallow an adult human whole, flying reptiles with 3-foot skulls and the biggest sea turtles to have ever lived. The exhibit opens Feb. 4.


Tim Tebow

OK, this one isn’t a sure thing, but there’s a good chance the former Heisman Trophy winner will be playing for the Columbia Fireflies next season.

The New York Mets signed Tebow to a minor-league deal in September and the Fireflies are a Class A affiliate of the Mets. In addition to Columbia, other Mets full-season minor league affiliates include Port St. Lucie, Florida (Advanced Class A), Binghamton, New York (AA) and Las Vegas (AAA).

McClatchy News Network File photo


Two new bowling alleys are planned for Columbia. The Petro mega-center being built on about 25 acres on the east side of Bluff Road will have a 16-lane bowling alley and is set to open in March. There are also plans for a six-lane bowling alley and entertainment center in the former Army Navy Store on Main Street.

The South Carolina Gamecocks hold women’s SEC basketball tournament champion trophy Logan Bowles USA TODAY Sports

Women’s basketball

Sixth-ranked South Carolina is 10-1 and playing well. It’s likely the team will dominate during March Madness. South Carolina was predicted to win the 2017 SEC women’s basketball championship in a vote of the league’s coaches. If the prediction holds, it would be the Gamecocks’ fourth-straight regular-season title.


Riverbanks’ baby gorilla

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is preparing for the birth of another baby animal in the spring. Macy, one of the zoo’s female western lowland gorillas, is pregnant and due in late May. It will be the first gorilla born and raised at Riverbanks. The zoo welcomed red-ruff lemur triplets and a newborn flamingo this summer.

Riverwalk Gerry Melendez gmelendez@thestate.com

Riverwalk reopening

Some of the best walking, jogging and cycling paths are along the seven-mile Riverwalk in Cayce and West Columbia, but most of the recreational area has been closed since last fall’s flood caused significant erosion and damage. Luckily, the repairs to the Riverwalk should be finished by summer.

Jerry Seinfeld Greg Allen Invision via AP

Jerry Seinfeld

Actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld is coming Columbia’s Township Auditorium in April.

It’s been 18 years since the “show about nothing” concluded its run on NBC, but here’s your chance to have a few laughs in the presence of a comedy legend.


Library openings

Three years ago, Richland County voters agreed to spend $59 million to renovate and upgrade a total of 10 library branches. Renovations at Richland Library’s main location on Assembly Street has made its way to the first floor and should be complete by spring. The finished library will have co-working spaces, artist studios and a production space that will provide filmmaking, audio recording and game development learning opportunities.