Columbia is one of only five American cities that is home to both the state capital and the state university. Toss in a pinch of Southern charm (and cuisine), plus the nation’s largest U.S. Army training facility in nearby Fort Jackson, and you have a lively stew of ideas, commerce, and innovation.
Columbia has always drawn its influences from the coastal Lowcountry and the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Upcountry to create South Carolina’s most diverse architecture. And the city is continuing to improve with all the new development that’s been going on in the last few years.
So what growth has happened in the past decade? RENTCafé dialed up Google Street View to check in on some of the changes. This video features just a few of the most notable projects from the past eight years, shown with before and after images.
1. Tower at Main and Gervais - Downtown - 2009
When William Sherman invaded Columbia during the Civil War, he destroyed every building in the commercial and governmental district but ordered the State House spared since he admired its beauty. Today, the domed Classical Revival capitol is reflected in the blue glass of this 18-story wedge-shaped tower that rose across the road on “South Carolina’s Main Street.”
2. My Carolina Alumni Center – Downtown - 2015
After sharing space for 170 years, the University of South Carolina’s (USC) alumni organization received this handsome three-story brick-and-stone home designed to foster greater interaction between the school’s students and graduates. USC alumni picked up the entire $26.64 million tab for the center that is designed to mimic the iconic Horseshoe gates on the campus grounds.
3. Staybridge Suites Columbia - Arsenal Hill - 2009
Perched just off of I-26, this is the only extended-stay hotel in downtown Columbia. The opening of the five-story brick-faced guest house in 2009 signaled the growth of the business community in the South Carolina capital. Guests take advantage of modern lifestyle amenities while staying within blocks of the city’s top attractions and riverfront.
4. CanalSide Lofts - Arsenal Hill - 2008
When the 374 rental apartments and townhomes of the CanalSide Lofts opened by the historic Columbia Canal, the project was trumpeted as “The New Way to Live in Columbia.” The open floor plans and spacious interiors of these eclectic-styled three-story units have set the standard for upscale living along the Three Rivers Greenway in the downtown district.
5. SpringHill Suites - Arsenal Hill - 2009
It is only a six-mile trip from the Columbia Metropolitan Airport to this business and leisure traveler hotel at 511 Lady Street, within walking distance of the downtown scene. Operated by Marriott International, the guest areas are 25 percent larger than traditional suites, with dedicated areas for sleeping, working and relaxing.
6. The Lofts at Printers Square - Arsenal Hill- 2007
This brick warehouse at 522 Lady Street was built in 1926 for the Jeff Hunt Machinery Company, but it became the home of the Columbia Cigar and Candy Company from 1965 until 1997. Following a restoration and repurposing project by architect Scott Lambert, this 1930s property re-emerged as a mixed-use development featuring a blend of commercial, retail, and housing space.
7. Darla Moore School of Business - Downtown - 2014
The Moore School at USC, founded in 1919, has been ranked as the number one international business school in America for almost two decades. The eye-catching new building at the corner of Assembly and Greene streets feature a cantilevered glass design that floods the building’s interior with natural light.
9. South Carolina State Museum - Arsenal Hill - 2014
The South Carolina State Museum began life in a refurbished 19th-century cotton duck cloth manufacturing plant in 1988. This 75,000 square-foot renovation and expansion project comprises several diverse buildings in one complex: an observatory, a Telescope Gallery considered the finest antique collection of its type in the world, one of the largest planetariums in the Southeast, and South Carolina’s only 4D theater.
10. Honors Residence Hall - Downtown - 2009
Of the 5,000 or so freshmen admitted to the University of South Carolina each year, around 450 enroll in the Honors College. This six-story buff-and-white dormitory is where they spend their first semesters on campus; classrooms and faculty offices line the ground floor. The Honors Residence earned Gold LEED certification for its many green features.
Columbia draws from six counties that conspire to create South Carolina’s largest metropolitan area. Is there a favorite new place you like to go in central South Carolina for quiet inspiration or a night out in the capital? Let us know in the comments section below!
All images belong to Google Street View. Check out more growth and development around Richland and Lexington counties by using Google Street View.
Special thanks to RENTCafé for providing the research and images. You can learn more at RENTCafé's website.