The city of Columbia has purchased the six-story state office building at 2221 Devine St. in Five Points and is marketing it to hotel developers.
The $3.8-million purchase includes 330 much-needed parking spots, according to City Council member Daniel Rickenmann, who has spearheaded the effort.
Rickenmann said there have been more than a dozen inquiries to develop a hotel, with one developer even pitching a second tower on the site. It would be the first and only hotel in Five Points since the Inn at Claussen’s Bakery closed following the 2015 floods..
“We’re looking for a high quality brand to anchor that end of Five Points,” he said. “We’re very excited about the quality of people asking about it.”
The purchase comes at a time of transition for the funky urban village near the University of South Carolina. Three late-opening bars that cater mainly to college students, many under-aged, have closed or are closing, and more may follow because of legal challenges from residents of surrounding neighborhoods.
The residents are challenging the renewal of liquor licenses for the bars based on the amount of food sold — a provision of state law until now has gone unenforced. They say the throngs of students who flock to Five Points, mostly from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., are a nuisance, causing vandalism, violence and general mayhem.
The hotel would bring more workers and more diverse visitors to the district, Rickenmann said.
“It helps get us to an 18-hour area,” he said, referring to having activity from 6 a.m. to midnight and not just bar traffic at night.
The building shares a large, angled lot with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Baan Sawan Thai Bistro and the Five Points Bank of America branch. The building has a three-tiered parking lot with entrances on Devine, Heidt and Lee streets, which would provide centrally located parking for the village, Rickenmann said.
Some of those spaces would be dedicated to the hotel, which could include some office space and retail, and the rest could be used for general Five Points parking.
“We couldn’t have built a structure” for parking for the building’s $3.8 million price tag, Rickenmann said. County records list the value of the building and property at slightly more than $9 million.
The hotel would fill a void in the village since 2015, when the 1,000-year flood wrecked the roof on Claussen’s Inn, causing it to close.
Claussen’s opened in 1928 as a large industrial bakery that cranked out eight million loaves of bread in its first 22 months of operation. In the 1980s, it was converted into an inn in which every room was unique.
Now Claussen’s has again been renovated, but is shifting from a hotel to 29 studio apartments.
On Monday, Historic Columbia will conduct a behind-the-scenes tour of the building. Tickets are $35 for members and $50 for non-members and are available online.
Ryna Hyler, partner at Styx Co., the developers of Claussen’s, said the hotel would add to the new positive momentum of Five Points..
The city’s decision to purchase the Devine Street property “will further add to the character of this distinctive urban village,” he said. “With the addition of new tenants such as Home Team BBQ and the White Mule, and additional development expected to occur along Harden Street, we believe that Five Points is at an all-time high,” he said.