A hurdle to bringing businesses to a mostly dormant block of Five Points might be cleared after a California investment group purchased a number of properties.
The greater part of the 900 block of Harden Street, including longtime Columbia mainstay El Burrito restaurant, has been bought by Campus + Main, an investment group that specializes in commercial development near college campuses.
Investment partners Gus Spoliansky and Trevor Nelson of Campus + Main said they targeted the Harden Street strip because of its proximity to the University of South Carolina and its potential to complement the vibrancy of campus.
One key to attracting retailers?
Along with the 930-950 Harden addresses, excepting the Hipwazee vintage clothing and costume store, Campus + Main also has purchased the adjacent vacant lots on Walnut Street, which can be turned into surface parking, the investors said.
There are a couple of other parcels on the stretch they are still considering purchasing, the pair said. They’ve invested more than $2 million there so far.
Unsold properties on the block include Hipwazee and Rise Gourmet Goods & Bakeshop, just below El Burrito. Spolianksy said Campus + Main is open to buying the properties if the owners are open to selling them.
El Burrito has been offered a short-term lease in its current location, Nelson said.
The future of the block situated across the street from the Food Lion shopping center and two blocks from the new Station at Five Points student apartments could include a mix of retailers that would appeal to college students, Spoliansky and Nelson said. Depending on the eventual scope of the redevelopment project, apartments also could be in the discussion, they said.
But “we’re certainly not trying to add more bars to Five Points,” Nelson said. “They have that sector pretty well covered.”
One local real estate agent said a restaurant client already is interested in locating on the strip.
The main struggle to attracting new retail tenants has been the lack of parking, said Richard Burts, one of the former property owners. He, along with investment partner Elizabeth Ward, purchased a pair of the buildings there two years ago, hoping to develop them with a mix of local businesses and possibly apartments.
The sale is “bittersweet,” Burts said, “because I wanted to do this project. But at the same time, it really could be a very big plus and a catalyst for Five Points.”
He and others see great potential for Campus + Main’s future plans for the property.
“Whatever may go in these spaces will be an upgrade over what is there today,” said Joe Taylor, the former state commerce secretary who also sold a pair of buildings to Campus + Main. “As someone who owns other property in the area, it is most positive to see renewed interest in this end of Five Points.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.