WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — People in West Columbia say new businesses, residences, and art-focused development is proof that the city is thriving.
“For a long time, people wouldn't cross the bridge, and now everybody's crossing the bridge. Families, retirees, everybody's coming over, cause West Columbia is the place to be,” said business owner Lainie Lewis.
Lewis moved to West Columbia to be closer to her grandchildren. She opened State Street Trading Company on State Street a year and a half ago.
Lewis added during the last 18 months, the city's grown around her.
“The Riverwalk down there, we're getting more people to come up, to visit us. New restaurants are opening up, as Jenny said Black Rooster is a big draw. Next door they're redoing the spaces so we're going to be getting more retail in here,” Lewis said, referencing the restaurant in the lower floor of the residential development across the street.
Nearby, Savage Craft Ale Works will be a brewery sometime next summer on Center Street, taking over the old city hall and fire station built in the 1900s.
The management team said they plan on opening in Summer of 2020 as permit work for the property continues. Eventually, they plan on revitalizing the old city hall, fire station and jail into a brewery with kitchen, and potentially other restaurants or food vendors.
The group added there were advantages to choosing West Columbia like an accommodating city leadership, development vision, and easier parking than downtown Columbia.
This week on Twitter, Studio 2LR released potential renderings of the location.
On Meeting Street, WECO Bottle & Biergarten plans to open this winter as a beer and wine spot, according to its Facebook page.
Local candle maker Jenny Harrison gave her reasons for why West Columbia is growing.
“Our lot sizes are really big, the homes are built in the 50s and 60s so there's a lot of character and charm in all the neighborhoods. I think it's drawing a lot of younger families and with that comes new energy and new life,” Harrison, owner of Seminole Candle Company, said.
Harrison said the city also benefited from the creation of the Artisan Market. The market is open each Saturday from 9a to 1p at 425 Meeting Street. It features local artists and vendors.
“First of all, it's a heckuva lot cheaper in Lexington County. As soon as you cross that bridge the taxes are a lot less, the water, the utilities. Everything in West Columbia is cheaper,” Lewis added.
Lewis told WLTX on her street alone, at least one new restaurant is expecting to open this fall, joining the other new businesses.
“The Mayor and I always say, ‘The west is the best,” Lewis said.