New housing development coming to Assembly Street

Richland Library will get a new neighbor as a Chicago developer looks to add a 15-story residential development at 1401 Assembly Street in downtown Columbia.

Representatives of Clayco Development Corp. unveiled plans for the proposed apartments during Thursday’s Design Development Review Commission meeting.

Chicago developers are proposing a 15-story multi-family unit development on Assembly Street. (Photos courtesy of Clayco Development Corporation)

Chicago developers are proposing a 15-story multi-family unit development on Assembly Street. (Photos courtesy of Clayco Development Corporation)

The 600-bed complex called The Edge will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans. A pool, fitness center, lounge and sitting areas are among the planned amenities. Residents also will have access to two levels of secured parking for cars, scooters and bikes.

Project costs are expected to total $70 million.

Developers acknowledge the new housing complex will tower over the main branch of Richland Library, but they say the design is not out of the ordinary for the area, noting the architecture of the nearby TD Bank building and other downtown skyscrapers.

“If you look at it in the context of the skyline and the buildings two blocks to the east, we look fairly normal,” said Russell Caplin, real estate managing director for Clayco Development.

Caplin said architects plan to design a courtyard between the housing development and the library to create connectivity and public space for library patrons and residents.

Some commissioners described the building as “monolithic” and suggested the buildings shape and size be modified to create a more residential appearance. Commissioner Robert Wynn requested more lighting, trees and planters on the street level to create an inviting sidewalk space for pedestrians.

“The important thing is creating a rich texture of architecture so there’s a good relationship between the two,” said Robert Neely, lead project architect.

Richland Library Executive Director Melanie Huggins agrees.

“It’s important to us to have a good neighbor. Someone who will be a good partner as we all continue to invest in downtown Columbia,” she said. “So far, the potential developers have been very good about keeping us informed, and of that, we are appreciative.”

Caplin said the team looked at various places around Columbia, but settled on the Assembly Street corridor for its proximity to nightlife, restaurants and the University of South Carolina.

“It offers good access to the Vista, City Center and to the (University of South Carolina),” he said. “Our relationship to the library and all of its offerings are a benefit to our residents.”

The housing complex is designated as a multi-family development, though Caplin admits that students and young professionals are a primary target. He said potential residents will be able to lease by bed rather than by unit based on the semester cycle.

The proposed apartment complex will be situated next to Richland Library's main branch.

The proposed apartment complex will be next to Richland Library’s main branch on Assembly Street in downtown Columbia.

“There’s 33,000 students four blocks away that are an obvious market for the building and obvious source of demand,” Caplin said. “We believe that there is demand from students and also young professionals in the market looking for housing close to work and close to fantastic dining districts.”

Clayco Development is the latest company to enter Columbia’s market to bring non-student dorm housing to the downtown area. Homes Urban Property Co. out of Greenville is building a mixed-used development featuring apartments, hotel, retail and restaurants at the corner of Huger and Gervais streets on the former Kline property next to the State Museum.

Matt Kennell, president of the City Center Partnership, said the Clayco Development apartments would attract year-round residents that can balance the large number of students who live in student housing downtown for a part of the year.

He anticipates these long-term residents will support and grow business for the merchants on Main and Assembly streets.

“With the resurgence of people living downtown, we’ve seen what that density does for the retail environment, for the shops and just the overall feeling about downtown,” Kennell said.

“Now that The Hub is out for the summer — that’s a largely student project — you can feel it,” he added. “There’s a noticeable change in the feeling of Main Street and the retail climate.”

Caplin said adjustments will be made to the plans before returning to the Design Development Review Commission for final approval. Construction is projected to begin in the spring of 2017.

Categories: Business, Richland County