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Revitalization Efforts Make a New, Bustling Columbia: See How the City Has Changed with these Striking Before-and-After Images

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 wonderful Southern charm (cuisine included), a dynamic, progressive arts scene, plus the nation’s largest U.S. Army training facility in nearby Fort Jackson and you have a lively stew of ideas, commerce, and adventure.

The Palmetto State’s largest city 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 Columbia’s only getting better with all the new development that’s been going on in the city in the last few years.

Care to see what’s new in the city of Columbia? We have dialed up Google Street View to check in on the latest exciting changes. Join us for a close-up view of the biggest and boldest projects reshaping the Columbia streetscape that have been completed sometime in the last 8 years.

1. Tower at Main and Gervais – Downtown – 2009

When William Tecumseh 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.”

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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.

Columbia
Columbia

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3. Staybridge Suites Columbia – Arsenal Hill – 2009

Perched just off 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 energizing 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 district.

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4. CanalSide Lofts – Arsenal Hill – 2008

When the 374 rental apartments and townhomes of the CanalSide Lofts opened hard 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.

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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 lively downtown scene. Operated by Marriott International, the guest areas are 25 percent larger than traditional suites, with dedicated areas for sleeping, working and relaxing.

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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 did its most recent duty as the home of the Columbia Cigar and Candy Company from 1965 until 1997. Following a restoration and repurposing project by architect Scott Lambert, this tired 1930s property re-emerged as a mixed-use development featuring a blend of commercial, retail, and housing space.

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7. Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbia Northeast – Dentsville – 2011

Marriott International brought its hospitality expertise to this fast-growing area of Greater Columbia in 2011. The guest house is convenient for both Fort Jackson and Sesquicentennial State Park, the only state park in Richland County. Downtown Columbia is ten minutes away and don’t forget to grab a complimentary Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich to start your day!

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8. 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. These eye-catching new digs at the corner of Assembly and Greene streets feature a cantilevered glass design that floods the building’s interior – including a trading room with stock market ticker boards – with natural light.

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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.

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10. Honors Residence Hall – Downtown – 2009

Of the 5,000 or so freshmen admitted to the University of South Carolina each year, about 436 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.

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What buildings do you think have improved the Columbia skyline? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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About the author

Amalia Otet

Amalia Otet is an online content developer and creative writer for PropertyShark. She loves all things real estate and strives to live beautifully, one green step at a time.

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