Three new businesses could be coming to a long-vacant Five Points storefront, but the plans hinge on whether Columbia officials allow the businesses to open without any on-site parking.
Richard Burts and Elizabeth Ward, owners of a pair of adjacent buildings in the low-traffic 900 block of Harden Street across from a Food Lion grocery store, have plans to introduce a spa-like business, a personal training business and a service-oriented business – all locally owned – to one of the buildings, Burts said. They, along with one other yet-unoccupied store space, would surround an open-air courtyard accessible from the street, Burts said.
“Right now, it would just be considered a missing tooth in the block,” Burts said of the storefront.
But to follow through on the business plans, the building owners need a parking variance from city zoning officials because no on-site parking spaces are available for the businesses. Street parking spaces are in front of the building and throughout Five Points.
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“Parking is an issue in Five Points. We’ve had our challenges down here,” said Burts, who has developed a number of Five Points properties. “But we’re trying to put something that hasn’t been in service for seven years back in service. ... We have an opportunity to create more density in Five Points, maybe create a spark on the upper part of Five Points.”
Burts’ and Ward’s adjacent building houses an Orthodox Christian book and icon store called The Unexpected Joy and the recently opened leasing office for the Station at Five Points apartments. Longtime businesses Hipwazee, a vintage clothing and costume store, and El Burrito also are neighbors in the block.
A second story set back from the street could be added above the two buildings, Burts said. Those units could be office or residential spaces, Burts said.
“There’s a little uncertainty yet,” about the possibilities of a second story, Burts said. “We have to know what you can do before you go and put your plan out. I want to find out what the neighborhood wants and what I’m allowed to do, and then match that with the creative side.”
Burts and Ward purchased the properties just over a year ago with the goal of saving them from demolition, Burts said.
Burts said his new business tenants have committed to opening in the Harden Street building if construction can be done soon enough. They’ve told him they’d like to move in by summer, Burts said, but it could be late summer before the building would be ready if the parking variance and proper permits come through.
The city Board of Zoning Appeals will consider Burts’ and Ward’s request at its meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.