Downtown Columbia, SC

I kept the Dwtn evaluation area pretty tight to include the Statehouse but not any part of South Carolina University. Using this criteria the borders were Gervais St. to the south (with the exception of the statehouse complex), the railroad/Assembly/Park St. to the west, Elmwood to the north, and Bull St to the east.

Downtown Columbia has two focal points… Main Street which runs north to south and terminates at the State house and Congaree Vista along west Gervais St, home to many of the City’s oldest buildings (a mix of warehouses and storefronts). Modern high rises are focused along Main Street and surround the statehouse.  These two commercial nodes have seen significant reinvestment since the 1990s but are not well connected. Outside of these two nodes Downtown Columbia is generally an uninspiring mix of modernist buildings, large surface parking lots and parking garages, suburban low rise retail, and disconnected historic housing.

Hopefully there is enough momentum dwtn to continue attracting new mixed-use housing, office jobs, and retail to expand quality urban fabric throughout Downtown Columbia and to eliminate dead spots. 
Click here to view my Downtown Columbia Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Sold ADA and sidewalk infrastructure, but not always comfortable to be a pedestrian due to the fast traffic.
* Transit access is good Dwtn and decent in the surrounding inner ring neighborhood. The rest of Columbia is pretty so and so and limited transit access to the suburbs. Convenient transit access to the airport, but it’s only a regional airport.
* Great street grid and connectivity, but more streets have high cars traffic and aren’t comfortable for pedestrians.
* Great economic diversity and solid racial diversity among Dwtn residents.
* Decent set of parks including Finlay Park, Memorial Park, the statehouse grounds, and Boyd Plaza. Boyd Plaza is the closest space I’d associated with a Civic Plaza. Its run by the Art Museum and has some events.
* Culturally a nice array of restaurants, cafes, breweries, & bars, art galleries, museums, and a handful of theaters, live music venues, and an independent cinema. Regional amenities include a convention center, and dwtn library.
* Dwtn has a business improvement district.
* Most retail amenities concentrated along Main Street and western Gervais St. (aka Congaree Vista). Along with lots of food & beverage amenities these nodes include a lot of boutiques, clothing stores, banks, and creative stores. Limited retail amenities in the dead spots of Dwtn. A public supermarket/drug store sits on the western edge of Dwtn. Main St also hosts weekly outdoor markets every Sat on the street.
* Great college present within and around Dwtn including around 30K students at USC and a Clemson Law School campus.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Density isn’t great in Dwtn. Still need for a lot more residential options.
* decent dedicated bike share system dwtn and surrounding districts but dedicated bike lanes is pretty limited in Dwtn and across the Columbia Region.
* Generational Diversity is pretty limited Dwtn, but fair amount of attractions (mainly museums) for families.
* For sale housing is pretty limited Dwtn but affordable. 1-bedroom condos sell in the 100K-200Ks and 2-bedrooms in the 200K&300Ks. Some 3-bedroom product selling in the 300Ks & 400Ks.
* Rentals are pretty limited too and moderately priced. 2-bedrooms lease in the $1,000s and 1-bedrooms around $1,000s.
* Sports stadiums limited to the Colonial Life Arena, primarily used by South Carolina University.
* Dwtn employment is only about 20,000. Jobs seem to be growing, but this is a pretty low amount of Dwtn employment for a region population just over 800K.
* Decent K-12 school options include a handful of elementary schools.
* Skyline is so .

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