Qdoba to Five Points; Apple store next?

Columbia could know by May whether an Apple Store will land in the old Kenny's auto site in Five Points.

The developer of The Shoppes at Five Points said Apple representatives were in town recently, but still haven't made a decision on whether to locate in a new 4,600-square-foot storefront at Blossom and Santee streets.

In the meantime, developer Stan Harpe said a Qdoba Mexican Grill will go in a 2,000-square-foot storefront he and partner Ron Swinson also built on the site. The store, which fronts Devine Street, should open mid-April.

And Walgreens is still on track for the main, 14,000-square-foot building on the site, at Saluda Avenue and Blossom Street, also with a mid-April opening.

But Apple would be the plum for the funky urban village near USC, said Merritt McHaffie, executive director of the Five Points Association of merchants.

"Its close proximity to USC would make it a big hit," she said.

Harpe said he has had other offers on the space, "but we would really love to see Apple come."

Apple spokeswoman Amy Barney offered no clue as to the likelihood of a store here.

"We haven't made any announcement about a store in that location," was all she would offer in a telephone interview from her Cupertino, Calif., office.

Apple is the manufacturer of the popular iPhone, iPod and Mac laptops. So intense are customers' loyalty to the products they sometimes call themselves the Cult of Mac

The company has stores on Charleston's King Street and in Charlotte's SouthPark mall.

The store would be a coup for The Shoppes at Five Points.

The development originally was planned as a six-story retail, condo and parking garage complex. But that plan cratered last year after an eleventh-hour flip-flop by Columbia City Council on its participation in the two floors of public parking.

Harpe and Swinson are suing the city for $1.4 million

City residents, during an election year, also had complained about the building's height.

The complex was whittled back to three free-standing one-story buildings.