New greenway, 126 apartments planned near downtown Columbia

The Philadelphia firm that redeveloped the Olympia and Granby mills and the Palmetto Compress building in to apartments wants to build 126 more in the mill villages.

And kicker is that the company will use its own money to build the first section of the long-awaited Rocky Branch Greenway.

The PMC Property Group plans to build a series of two- and three-story buildings on either side of Williams Street adjacent to the Vulcan Materials quarry and near the former Olympia Mill, according to documents filed with the Columbia Planning Commission.

Artist renderings of the buildings show them mimicking the mill villages’ distinctive “salt box” sloped roofs.

Bob Guild, president of the Granby Mill Village Association, said the design matches the historic feel of the area.

“They’ve worked closely with the community while adding these apartments that are compatible with the mill community on land that wasn’t occupied,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for more from PMC.”

In addition to renovating the historic mills, the developers also built the 612 Whaley Street apartment building in front of the mills and converted the former Palmetto Compress building into apartments.

The number of students living in the mill village has been problematic at times — from loud parties to parking issues. But Guild said PMC has delivered well managed projects.

“It’s a force we can’t block so we are doing our best to work with it,” Guild said of the growing student population.

The new greenway will run from Olympia Avenue along the creek to an SCE&G substation near the Congaree River. It is part of a larger greenway that will eventually run from Martin Luther King Jr. park near Five Points to the Congaree River.

The site plan was approved without comment by the Columbia Planning Commission on Monday

PMC is also considering a $55 million plan for 194 apartments and more than 3,000 square feet of retail space at the corner of Huger and Blossom streets, a former antique mall site.

The company has declined comment on the two projects.

All of the buildings are open for rental by anyone — called “market rate” — but geared mostly to University of South Carolina students. By contrast, much of the student housing built in downtown Columbia the past few years rents by the room rather than the apartment.

Jeff Wilkinson has worked for The State for both too long and not long enough. He’s covered politics, city government, history, business, the military, marijuana and the Iraq War. Jeff knows the weird, wonderful and untold secrets of South Carolina. Buy him a shot and he’ll tell you all about them.