USC buys up property because it “doesn’t want to compete with private sector”
Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs on South Main Street — an iconic eatery for university students and others since 1989 — plans to close after agreeing to sell the property to the USC Development Foundation, according to foundation executive director Russ Meekins.
"Sandy's, unfortunately, has decided that they want to close," Meekins told The State. "We talked to them about staying open but they want to go ahead and close so they'll be closing the restaurant in January it looks like. I hate to see them go but parking is desperately needed around the university so in the short term there will be parking on that lot."
The foundation recently agreed to purchase the half-acre tract at the southwest corner of Main and College streets for $1.5 million. The Sandy’s property – which last year had been targeted for a private student apartment tower — was the second deal in downtown Columbia in as many months for the foundation, a private, income-tax-exempt organization that purchases and sells property for USC’s benefit.
"What we try to do is acquire property in the path of growth or adjacent to the university so that we can control what goes there," Meekins said. "We don't really want to compete with the private sector ... what we want to do is help the university grow in a responsible manner."
The foundation also purchased the USC Bookstore at the corner of South Main and Greene streets, on the same block as Sandy’s.
The bookstore is staying, Meekins said. "They have an eight-year lease and so that will stay the same. ... The reason we bought those two properties were for strategic reasons. There are no big plans to do some big building there or do some development there."
Bud Sanderson, owner of Sandy's Hot Dogs, could not be reached for comment. Sanderson told The State in March after the Main Street location underwent a major renovation that, "We've spent quite a bit of money (on the renovation). It's not the (kind of money you'd spend) if you planned on moving out. We plan on being there."
The remaining three Sandy's locations — on Broad River Road, St. Andrews Road and Sunset Boulevard in Lexington — are to remain open.
Staff photographer Tracy Glantz contributed.