The Edge, a 15-story student housing project planned for a lot adjacent to Richland Library on Assembly Street, is on hold.
It is the second delay for the 355,000-square foot structure, which promised to be a bridge between Main Street and the Vista. The project was stalled for six months last year because of concerns about its design.
Construction of the $70 million project on Assembly Street, designed to house more than 600 students, was scheduled to begin this past spring. St. Louis-based developer CRG subsidiary Clayco gave no reason for the delay when pressed by The State on Thursday.
“We are still pursuing the project and look forward to our continued work with Mayor (Steve) Benjamin and members of the community,” CRG’s managing director of multi-family development Russ Caplin said in a prepared statement.
But insiders said the announcements of two other student housing projects may have given the developers pause. Those projects are the University of South Carolina’s $460 million “campus village” with 3,750 beds and a 507-bed complex on Shop Road near Williams-Brice Stadium.
“It feels like the developers are taking a deep breath,” said Fred Delk, executive director of the Columbia Development Corp., which encourages and guides investment in the Vista and other areas of downtown. “And a deep breath by a student developer right now is not a surprise.”
Mayor Steve Benjamin told The State that company officials plan to complete the project in 2019. “Clayco has assured me that they are looking forward to a 2019 delivery of a great project in our urban core and we are committed to working with them to make it a reality,” he said.
The Edge delay is the third recent stumble in downtown Columbia’s robust growth, which has rocketed in the past few years because of the influx of more than 4,000 USC students into new, large, resort-like downtown student housing complexes.
The city has seen 10 of the mega complexes developed as USC continues to steadily grow it freshman classes. This year, the freshman class grew by a record-shattering 500 students to 5,800.
▪ Developers of the Kline City Center development slated for the corner of Huger and Gervais Street this week drastically cut back their project, which had included a hotel, office tower, retail and apartments. The developers said they scaled back the project because the city would not agree to build a parking garage.
▪ The developers of BullStreet on the campus of the former S.C. State Hospital fired their retail recruiter when a 400,000-square-foot, 80-store shopping village never materialized. Developer Hughes Development Corp. blamed changing market conditions.
Matt Kennel, president and CEO of Center City Partnership, which encourages and guides investment in the central business district, said the three drawdowns are an extension of the city’s rapid growth.
“We re getting to an equilibrium, a balance,” he said. “Developers are getting more cautious.”
The Edge was considered to be another big boost for Columbia’s revitalized Main Street.
The venerable street, once Columbia’s retail center, was dormant for three decades before The Hub – an 850-bed student housing complex – opened in the 21-story Palmetto Center, formerly home to SCANA Corp.
Although not on Main Street, The Edge was one black away, and actually closer to Main than the Vista.
The complex would have funneled students into both the Vista, the city’s arts and entertainment district, and Main Street. Now, that influx of new residents is delayed.
“I’m disappointed that the project has been delayed,” Kennell said, but added that The Empire, another large student housing project being built on Assembly Street on the Bernstein property across from the State House, will continue Main Street’s momentum.
“We have the Bernstein project and it’s just down the street from where The Edge is,” he said. “And we’ll have a good, positive bump from that project.”
One sidelight to The Edge delay is that developers bought and razed a century-old building at 1401 Assembly Street to make way for the project. The two-story brick building was a one of the few remaining buildings from Columbia Africa-American business district, which was centered around Park and Hampton streets.
A comprise to move the building never materialized.