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Plans for proposed Five Points bookstore, Vista hotel to be reviewed Thursday

City of Columbia's Design & Development Review Commission meets Thursday, May 19, to consider proposed plans

COLUMBIA, S.C. — City of Columbia's Design/Development Review Commission (DDRC) holds its regular meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in City Hall Council Chambers on Main Street. The agenda for the meeting includes proposed new businesses for the Vista and Five Points areas of Columbia.

In Five Points, developers of the property at 734 Harden St. are asking for preliminary certification for the Bailey Bill* in order to conduct renovations to the interior and exterior of the building to house an independent bookstore and cafe. The building was the former location of Thirsty Parrot bar and, before that, Parthenon Greek restaurant.

Plans submitted say the developers would restore the exterior to what it looked like around 1950, with painted brick rather than stucco, and restored windows and repaired roof.

The first floor would be configured to have a book store in the front and a cafe and porch behind the store. The book store would have a children's reading nook and a display area; the cafe would have five booths; and the ADA-accessible fenced in patio would have a seating area.

The three apartments on the second floor would remain.

In the Vista, Ashok Patel is requesting approval for construction of a 7-story, 249-room Homewood/Tru hotel at the corner of Gervais and Williams street. Entrances and exits would be accessed along Williams and Senate streets. A site plan that has yet to be submitted for approval shows that a 430-space parking garage would be built on the southwest corner of the block, along Senate Street. There is also a U-shaped space designated on the site plan for a future multi-unit housing development along Huger Street.

Also on the DDRC's agenda:

  • approval for an art installation on the guardhouse at Olympia Mill, 600 Heyward St.
  • request for preliminary certification for Bailey Bill and design approval for the renovation of the City Art building at 1224 Lincoln St. to include an event space
  • approval for changes made to the design of the proposed Benton Street apartments off River Drive and North Main. The design of the 56-unit complex's parking area and office/common spaces was altered after input on the initial design in March.

The DDRC meeting is open to the public, and public comment may be provided in-person and virtually. In-person meetings will be socially distanced and face coverings are no longer required but are recommended. City of Columbia council and commission meetings are streamed on the CityTV YouTube channel.

* The Bailey Bill provides tax incentives for developers making improvements to historic structures and low to moderate income rental properties. In Columbia, the developer must invest a minimum of 20% of the building's assessed value back into the building, and the work plans must come under review and approval, before the assessed value of the property is abated for the next 20 years. If the accessed value of the property goes up during that time span, the developer will continue to be taxed at the rate set pre-rehabilitation -- saving on city and county taxes.

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