COLUMBIA, S.C. — An old church in Columbia's Rosewood neighborhood will soon be home to new apartments, restaurants and retail space.
News 19 learned more about the significance of the project and how it's being received in the neighborhood.
For more than 80 years, a plot of land off Rosewood Drive and Sloan Street housed Rosewood Church.
In 2019, church leaders decided to downsize and moved a mile down the road.
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"We immediately saw it as a downtown infill urban apartment opportunity," said Frank Cason, President of Cason Development Group.
Instead of demolishing the church, developers are repurposing the existing structure converting the building into 52 high-end apartments.
"There are ceilings that go up 25, 30 feet, the height of the sanctuary," said Cason. "We'll have about 9,300 square feet."
The existing back building and newly constructed front building will house restaurants and retail space.
Starbucks, for example, already claimed a spot.
"I think it's the largest development to happen on Rosewood since the Publix across the street," said Cason. "We are big believers in a rising tide lifts all boats. We certainly hope that it generates more development and more investment activity in the area."
Columbia City Councilman Will Brennan, who represents the Rosewood community, says this is the first residential development of this magnitude in this neighborhood.
"This is a good case study of a developer coming in, finding a good reuse for a quality historic building, adding to the demand needed for quality residential and putting properties back on the tax roll," said Brennan. "This is definitely the first of its kind on Rosewood."
The new location will be a pedestrian-safe development, Brennan says, that will provide more options for a booming housing market.
"The demand is there. It's needed. We need young professionals. We need them here so we can attract the innovative small businesses we need to grow our little economy," he said.
Mike Ely, the Vice President of Rosewood Community Council, said members are supportive of the new development.
"It's been a mixed reception for sure," said Ely. "I think the prevailing attitude in the neighborhood is that we like Rosewood the way it is, so we are looking forward to some responsible development."
While Ely has heard a few complaints, he says he's excited about his new neighbors and welcomes this new addition to the Rosewood corridor.
"We're also excited that the former Rosewood Church was not being torn down," said Ely. "There's a lot of different things that could have gone there and we thought that reusing the church, putting apartments inside it and building on the parking lot was a great use of that space."
Other Rosewood residents, like Dustin Whitehead, are optimistic about what could come next.
"You can go to the Hangar or the Rosewood Dairy Bar and get something to eat. That's nice, but I wouldn't be opposed to a few more restaurants popping up on the main drive," said Whitehead. "On the main drive, it's already a busy road anyway. What's wrong with a couple of extra restaurants? Nothing wrong with a new apartment complex using buildings that aren't being used."
"I'm excited to welcome something that might stimulate the economy in the area. I'm a fan," he added.
Cason tells News 19 demolition has begun inside the old sanctuary.
Construction will likely start in the next two months and the project is expected to be complete in 2022.
We're told a big restaurant announcement involving a local eatery for the property will be coming very soon.