West Columbia OKs riverfront project

A montage of features envisioned by developer Matt Mundy on a site overlooking the West Columbia riverfront.
A montage of features envisioned by developer Matt Mundy on a site overlooking the West Columbia riverfront. Provided illustration

West Columbia got the signature riverfront development long wanted Wednesday.

The $40 million project overlooking the Congaree River will be home for up to 235 apartments and condominiums, stores, restaurants and offices in four buildings up to 76 feet tall set amid small parks and plazas.

City Council approved the plan for the complex 7-1 amid complaints from residents that it will create traffic and parking problems in the adjoining Mill Village neighborhood.

It promises to spur more redevelopment around it, officials say.

“This development will be a cornerstone for the area,” Councilman Tem Miles said.

City officials spent $3 million on eight parcels a decade ago to acquire the site for a centerpiece mirroring what’s happened in the Vista across the river.

Nearby homeowners say too much will be put on the 4-acre site at State and Meeting streets near the Gervais Street bridge. “This is good enough if you scale it back,” Jennifer Boyd said.

But residents lost their bid to cap residences at 200 as council members approved 5-3 the maximum of 235 wanted by developer Matt Mundy.

Nearby residents will continue pressing for something smaller. “We’re going to explore every avenue,” Boyd said.

Some “bumps and hiccups” are likely as the project proceeds, so traffic restrictions in the neighborhood might be necessary, Miles said.

The project might have up to 50 fewer residences if demand for office and retail space is strong, but Mundy wants to be adaptable.

That flexibility is important, some council members said. “It’s going to have a huge economic impact, and I don’t want it to sit empty,” Councilwoman Casey Jordan Hallman said.

Work on the project is expected to start by late spring and take up to three years to finish.

“We’re ready and excited about what’s ahead,” Mundy said after a year of negotiation with city officials.

Different developers looked at the site during the past decade, but Mundy is the first to pursue development on a sloping site known locally as “the pit.”

The project will include a parking garage for riverfront recreation. The site is an unofficial parking lot for those headed to the Riverwalk for concerts, walking, jogging and wading.

Projects by Mundy’s firm Estates & Companies include transformation of the Whitney Hotel in Columbia into apartments, 42 Magnolia apartments in Forest Acres and Arcadia’s Edge apartments in Arcadia Lakes.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483