Student Housing Booms in Columbia—$80M Project Approved

It was just a few weeks ago that local developer Ben Arnold, in a joint venture with Monarch Ventures of Charlotte, N.C., filed papers with the Columbia Planning Commission for the Monarch at USC—a 600-bed student housing project

It was just a few weeks ago that local developer Ben Arnold, in a joint venture with Monarch Ventures of Charlotte, N.C., filed papers with the Columbia Planning Commission for the Monarch at USC—a 600-bed student housing project, which the partners want to develop at the corner of Blossom and Huger Street. While the Monarch at USC has yet to receive a decision from the city board, another developer, the first in a string of many, has received the zoning board’s approval for its proposed downtown project.

According to a report by The State, the $80 million project proposed by Core Campus LLC of Chicago has cleared Columbia’s zoning board and might break ground as early as spring 2013. The project envisions converting the former SCANA building in Columbia’s central business district into an 851-bed student housing complex, thus converting the 21-story Palmetto Center into The Hub on Main Street at Palmetto Center.  The former office high rise will be redeveloped into a 258-unit private dorm, with one- to five-bedroom apartments.

Indoor amenities, most of which will be found on the 11th floor, include a study lounge, conference and club rooms, as well as a fitness center with yoga and steam rooms. Retail space will be developed at street level, while the building’s basement will be converted into an 88-car parking garage with 215 bicycle spaces. However, 88 parking spaces are not sufficient for a development of this scale, so developers will be leasing 338 spaces in an adjacent city parking garage.

Furthermore, Core Campus plans to enter negotiations to develop outdoor amenities such as a sandy volleyball court, grills, a pool and a hot tub on the top level of the parking garage. A green screen will protect the privacy of visitors and other downtown businesses and residents.

Because opponents of the project voiced concerns regarding the safety of students in a mostly commercial area, especially at night, increased safety measures have already been negotiated and will be implemented both at the dormitory tower and the city parking garage. Such safety features include enhanced garage lighting and garage security cameras to be monitored by both police and The Johnson Group, The Hub’s hired private security company.

The SCANA building sat vacant since the company’s move-in in 2009. Work is expected to take between 10 to 12 months, with a deadline of fall 2014.

Image courtesy of Google Maps