Dave and Buster’s, Lowes Foods, Main Street growth highlight local retail changes

Halfway through 2017, new retail and restaurant developments are abounding in the Columbia market, as are the spending trends of Midlands consumers.

Retail sales in the Columbia area were 5.2 percent higher during January and February over the same months a year ago, according to the state Department of Revenue.

While new retail developments are popping up throughout the market, perhaps no area is seeing more of a surge in growth than Lexington, specifically in a 2-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard from North Lake Drive to the Target-anchored Lexington Pavilion Shopping Center.

Lexington is experiencing so much residential and, as a result, retail growth, the county is expected to comprise 35.5 percent of the total Columbia metropolitan-area population by 2021, according to the geographic information company Esri.

Here is a recap of retail developments that have come and gone so far this year in three of the fastest-growing areas of Columbia – Lexington, downtown Columbia/Vista and Harbison Boulevard – and what is expected to come in those areas in the second half of the year.


Colliers International estimates the population of Lexington County will grow from 286,000 today to 307,000 by 2021, a 7.4 percent increase.

In 2015, building permits were authorized for 1,677 new private housing structures for Lexington County, a 24 percent increase from 2012, according to the Federal Reserve of Economic Data.

Colliers also reported that the retail vacancy rate in the Lexington retail corridor decreased from 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2016 to 1.3 percent in the first quarter of 2017. The asking rental rates for shop space increased from $16.30 per square foot per year in the first quarter of 2016 to $21.36 during the first quarter of this year.

Sunset Boulevard is home to much of the growth in Lexington. The biggest development currently underway along that stretch is Lexington Marketplace which, once completed, will include Fresh Market, Hobby Lobby, MOD Pizza, Tijuana Flats, Ulta and Affordables Apparel.

Just down Sunset, behind Mellow Mushroom, a small shopping center is under construction that will be home to The Casual Pint beer cafe and Burn Boot Camp.

A lot of development also is taking place at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hope Ferry Road, where the new Lexington Square shopping center will feature Lexington’s second Lowes Foods grocery store, slated to open later this month.

In June, Lowes opened its first Midlands location across from Lexington High School in the newly constructed Wildcat Commons shopping center, which includes Little Caesars Pizza and will soon have a local barber shop and nail salon as well as Jersey Mike’s Subs. At Lexington Square, Lowes will be joined by Orangetheory Fitness, Creative Nail Salon, Hollywood Feed, Sola Salon and Sikuya Japanese Sushi and Steakhouse. Later this year, the area’s second Poke Bros. Hawaiian restaurant will open directly across Sunset in the space recently vacated by Bruegger’s Bagels.

Just across from Hope Ferry is a fully renovated Aldi grocery store, which reopened Thursday. Across Sunset, ground has been broken for a 36,000-square-foot LiDL supermarket, ALDI’s European competitor that is expected to open in early 2018.

And, across from the Target-anchored Lexington Pavilion shopping center in the McCauley Square shopping center, Palmetto Subs has moved into a site vacated by the Lost Cajun restaurant. Also located in McCauley Square is Travinia Italian Kitchen and Momma Rabbit’s Nibbles and Sips. AR Workshop – a Fixer Upper-style DIY home decor workshop – also opened there in late June.

Downtown Columbia

As the city center population increases, options for entertainment, dining and retail have boomed in the downtown/Vista area. The Vista alone boasts 78 restaurants and bars along with retail ranging from bridal shops, men’s clothing, jewelry and gifts, specialty food stores, outfitter stores, salons, candy and cupcake shops, according to Fred Delk, executive director of the Columbia Development Corp., a catalyst that stimulates economic and residential development in Columbia.

In addition, multiple new retail spaces have opened or are slated to open along Main Street.

“The downtown population has dramatically increased over the last several years, particularly in student and young professional apartments,” Delk said. “This has spurred the addition of new activity near the Congaree River. Now there are thousands of apartments, town homes and condos within a few blocks of the river located at Canal Side and near the intersection of Blossom and Huger streets and in Olympia.”

On Main Street, plans are rolling for a six-lane bowling alley and entertainment center in the former Army Navy Store building in the 1600 block, next to Lula Drake Wine Parlour, which opened in November. Columbia developer Scott Garvin has purchased the former Hennessy’s Restaurant and Lounge building at the corner of Main and Blanding streets with plans to recruit a top-flight restaurant to the two-story, 15,000-square-foot, 1880’s era building.

In the 1300 block of Main, Arcade Mall’s major remodel includes the addition of two restaurants – Pita Pit and recently announced Stoner’s Pizza. And at 1301 Main Street, Famous Toastery will open in 2018.

While no location has been announced yet, Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop has announced plans to locate on Main Street after closing its location on Harden Street in Five Points.

“Right now we are exploring Main Street because we love the energy downtown and we would be thrilled to be a part of the revitalization that is happening there right now,” New York chef Sarah Simmons told The State in April.

Shortly after artisan shop Nest announced it would close, vacating its home at 1450 Main Street, Miss Cocky women’s boutique claimed the space, planning to relocate there later this month from Gadsden Street.

The Vista will soon welcome Camden’s Salud Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge in the Aloft Hotel at Lady and Lincoln streets. The restaurant will be the second to open on Lincoln Street this year. In February, Harper’s Restaurant Group opened 1801 Grille at 700 Lincoln Street across from Colonial Life Arena.


The Harbison/St. Andrews area is one of the largest in the Columbia retail market, with an inventory of 3.5 million square feet, according to Colliers International. The average asking rental rate for shop space was $12.44 per square foot per year, and the vacancy rate at the end of the quarter was 9.8 percent, Colliers found.

While several Harbison Boulevard-area restaurants closed in the first half of 2017 – including Hu Hot, Macaroni Grill and Tilted Kilt – other new eateries, retail stores and entertainment venues have or will quickly take their place.

The former Macaroni Grill on Harbison Boulevard has been leveled and construction is underway on a new BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, the chain’s first in the Midlands. Golfsmith and Family Christian stores closed their locations in the area as part of both chains’ larger nationwide going-out-of-business closings. Haverty’s Furniture will relocate from its longtime home on Colonial Life Boulevard to 234 Harbison Boulevard in the spot vacated by FootAction, which moved across the street in the shopping center occupied by Total Wine and David’s Bridal.

Perhaps the biggest draw for the area thus far this year, however, has been restaurant and entertainment venue Dave & Buster’s at Columbiana Centre mall on Columbiana Drive off Harbison. The first Dave & Buster’s to locate in the Midlands, this location boasts 30,000 square feet and employs 250.

Dave & Buster’s isn’t the only change inside Columbiana Centre. High-end stores Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic and Bebe have closed, but later this year women’s apparel and accessories store J. Jill will open in the former Bebe space, and Journeys Kidz and Sunglass Hut will open, joining the recently opened Torrid.

American Eagle Outfitters is undergoing a full renovation that will include the addition of the company’s lingerie shop, Aerie. Tween girls’ apparel shop Justice is also expanding, and SC Place Gifts and Embroidery recently expanded.

Riley Rose, a new concept beauty boutique being launched through a partnership with GGP Inc. and youth-focused fashion retailer Forever 21 Inc., is also set to open at Columbiana later this year.

“There is a widely accepted belief that brick-and-mortar retailing has taken a back seat to online and mobile retail, but many national retail chains and international retailers operating in the U.S. have made announcements for expansion as far into the future as 2020,” said Andrew Peach, general manager of Columbiana Centre.

He added that Columbiana works closely with the Harbison Community Association to expedite property improvements and to plan for new shops in the mall.

“It’s valuable for residents to know that growth and expansion are still part of the vision for the future of brick-and-mortar retailing in Columbia.”


In northeast Richland County, the Fresh Market opened in the Shoppes at Two Notch near Village at Sandhill. The shopping center also includes Zoes Kitchen, MOD Pizza and Pet Supermarket.

The Killian Road area continues to grow, with Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers opening in February.

Near downtown, the BullStreet development at the former S.C. State Hospital got some good news in April when chef Scott Hall announced that he would open Bone-In Barbeque – his first brick-and-mortar restaurant – at the Ensor building near Spirit Communications Park.

In the Cayce-West Columbia area, Brain Freeze, which serves Italian ice and ice cream, opened at 906 Knox Abbott Drive, next door to the new Mary’s Arepas. McAlister’s Deli announced plans to open on Augusta Road across from the West Side Plaza, and East Bay Deli opened at 108 Sunset Court near Lexington Medical Center. Also near that hospital, a second local Freddy’s Steakburgers is under construction.

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