Columbia’s design review commission has given preliminary approval to a nearly 600-bed student housing project on Huger Street at Blossom Street.
The project, targeted for completion in August 2015, would be built by a New York City firm on land owned by Columbia developer Ben Arnold. Arnold plans to sell the 4-acre parcel to Park 7 Group, which will build and own the development.
The project, which would be located at one of Columbia’s key entryways, is one of four student housing complexes approved or proposed for downtown.
“This is something that USC and the city need, and we’re going to make it happen,” Arnold said.
This is Arnold’s second attempt to build student housing on the property after plans with the original developer fell through earlier this year.
Park 7 partner Paul Levine said his firm has built student housing projects totaling 18,000 beds in 13 states. He said the company, whose offices are located on Park Avenue in Manhattan, was interested in Columbia because of the University of South Carolina’s growing student population and the property’s proximity to the main campus and inclusion in the school’s Innovista research district.
“And the rental market here is very strong,” he said.
Members of the Design, Development Review Commission approved of the design, size and configuration of the three- and four-story complex, but asked that the developers come back with more detail on building materials, landscaping, plans for a retaining wall and look of a parking garage.
“I think the project meets the intent of the (Innovista design) guidelines,” member Dale Marshall said. “But the final details are what make a project.”
Roger Keyser of the new Jersey-based architectural firm Kitchen & Associates, said the company would provide more design detail and material samples at next month’s meeting.
The complex would have a mix of facades, including stucco finish, composite panel, brick veneer and corrugated metal. The plan calls for a parking garage, cafe, pool, fitness center and two internal courtyards.
A parking garage would provide all of the required parking and bicycle spaces. There also would be limited on-street parking on Wheat and Pulaski streets.
Renderings show 108 four-bedroom units, seven three-bedroom units, 69 two-bedroom units and seven one-bedroom units ringed around two internal courtyards.
Other student housing projects planned for the city core include:
• The former Palmetto Center, a 21-story office building on Main Street, which is being renovated to house about 800 students.
• A smaller, 249-bed complex, approved for Pendleton and Pulaski streets, near the Amtrak station.
• And USC is planning to put student housing behind the Carolina Coliseum, near the new Darla Moore School of Business.
An Ohio development firm had planned a student housing project adjacent to Arnold’s property on the site of the Palmetto Compress warehouse. However, Edwards Communities pulled out when the city agreed to purchase the building to keep it from being demolished.
Levine said it’s a bit of a race to enter this competitive market.
“It always is,” he said.