Five Points development on deck as village sees recent business turnovers

While a patient block of Five Points sits poised for major redevelopment in the coming months, empty storefronts dot the landscape of one of Columbia’s most popular hubs for entertainment.

Recent months have seen a heavy turnover of businesses in the district. New restaurants and stores have brought new light as longtime business owners have retired and closed up shop or moved, all while the district’s popular bar scene is in a state of cultural flux.

“We’d like to get back to more of a mix of everything,” said Kelsey Desender, director of the Five Points Association. “We don’t just want five more delis or more bars. But I think the uniqueness of some of the things that have filled in just makes Five Points more of a destination.”

Here’s a roundup of what’s new, what’s closed and what to keep an eye on next in Five Points.

What’s in

Businesses new to the village in recent months include:

  • Sneaky Pete’s restaurant, which opened last week in the Greene Street space left by Blue Cactus after it closed earlier this year.
  • The Cocktail Club and Enzo’s Delicatessen at The Cotton Gin, a late-night club popular among college students. The cocktail bar and deli have opened on the ground floor of the two-story bar, offering a softer vibe compared to the traditional nightclub upstairs.
  • Home Team BBQ, which continues to draw big crowds since it opened in the former Harper’s restaurant in May.
  • Murphy’s Law Kitchen and Bar, which is the rebranded version of the Latitude 22 nightclub beside The Cotton Gin.
  • Charlotte CBD Dispensary, which opened in the former Copper Penny boutique space on Harden Street. It sells a variety of medicinal cannabidiol products.
  • Gibson’s gift shop, which moved back to its Five Points roots this spring after closing its shop on Forest Drive. It’s open now on Saluda Avenue beside Dakota’s boutique.
  • In addition, Sunrise Artisan Bath and Body moved this spring from the low-traffic Santee Avenue to more visible Saluda Avenue. It fills the space left by Portfolio Art Gallery, which closed in February after almost 40 years in the village.
  • And 29 boutique apartments opened this summer in the historic Inn at Claussen’s Bakery on Greene Street.

What’s out

A number of late-night bars oriented to college patrons have closed in the past year or so. Some of the closures are at least in part thanks to state Sen. Dick Harpootlian’s efforts to clamp down on late-night bars that serve young revelers without abiding by a state law that requires alcohol-serving businesses to also serve substantial amounts of food. As a result of Harpootlian’s war, some bars have been denied liquor licenses or opted not to pursue renewing their licenses.

These Five Points bars recently closed their doors:

  • The Horseshoe
  • Cover 3
  • The Barn
  • Five Points Roost
  • Five Points Saloon
  • Latitude 22, which has transitioned to Murphy’s Law Kitchen and Bar

On the restaurant front, Five Points said goodbye this year to Blue Cactus and the kitchen of Cellar on Greene (which remains open as a wine shop only).

Pecknel Music, which called Five Points home for five decades, left the village to move to Lexington this summer. The 39-year-old Portfolio Art Gallery closed earlier this year.

And Sylvan & Dubose Jewelers, the oldest business in Five Points, announced this week that it would close at the end of this year, after nearly a century in business.

What’s up next

  • Plans are taking shape for what could be an area-defining development on the upper end of Harden Street. Development group Campus + Main has been gathering properties in the 900 block of Harden and along Walnut Street for the past few years. Now, the developers say they are within months are starting physical work on the site, which eventually will feature 31,000 square feet of retail space.
  • The fate of legendary Five Points bar Group Therapy soon will be decided; well, the fate of its liquor license, anyway. The bar, owned by equally legendary former Gamecock quarterback Steve Taneyhill, is facing a challenge to the renewal of its liquor license by the aforementioned Harpootlian. The two sides are expected to argue their cases to an administrative law court judge later this year.
  • Plans are in the works to lure a hotel to Devine Street on a property recently purchased by the city of Columbia. It would be the only hotel in the district and could help to redefine the character of the area.
  • There are a lot of storefront gaps to fill in. With the closures of several bars and other regular business turnover, Five Points is ripe for new businesses that will help shape the next generation of the village. At least half a dozen large spaces are on the market for leasing.

“It’s very important what comes back in when we infill these spaces. The hope is that the property owners will take their time and think of it as being an ecosystem,” said Richard Burts, a longtime developer in the district. “Now is probably a great time if someone’s looking to open a business. There are certainly opportunities to come in and start kicking off the next 30-year cycle” of businesses that will anchor the district.

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Sarah Ellis has reported on Columbia and Richland County since 2014. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in journalism.