10-Point Plan introduced to bring more business to Five Points

A group of business owners, neighborhood leaders and elected officials announced a new 10-Point Plan to revitalize Five Points.

 

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — A group of business owners, neighborhood leaders and elected officials announced a new 10-Point Plan to revitalize Five Points. It was presented at a press conference on Thursday.

The main goal of the 10-Point Plan is to attract and make it easier for new businesses to open in Five Points. Leaders say the current process is discouraging businesses from taking over some of the vacant property.

“When I see empty store fronts in Five Points, I don’t see a coming apocalypse for our neighborhood. I see a time of tremendous opportunity. Opportunity for not only Five Points, but also for the kinds of small, family-owned businesses that called Five Points home for over a century,” said Steve Cook, President of the Five Points Association.

Business and neighborhood leaders are calling on the city to make changes to help renew Five Points.

“The city doesn’t need to act as a barrier, but function as a partner to guide new business through this process as quickly, and as inexpensively as possible,” said Cook.

The 10-Point Plan is an effort to make it easier for businesses to open and operate in the area.

“It’s a very long and cumbersome permitting process, if you want to improve real estate here. It can take up to five months, or longer. There’s upfront fees, and there’s onsite parking requirements,” said Joe Taylor, former South Carolina Secretary of Commerce.

“What we’re talking about is creating opportunities and taking the barriers away to allow people to move quickly and get an investment in at a lower cost,” said Daniel Rickenmann, Columbia City Councilman.

Some of the steps include waiving water and sewer expansion fees, streamlining the permit process and increasing parking access.

“If it’s not happening right now, it’s not going to happen. I think Columbia is missing out on its fair share of opportunity and new investment,” said Taylor.

The plan was made through a collaboration of merchants and neighborhood leaders, to make Five Points known as more than a bar area for college kids.

“We bring retailers here all the time, and they like it. But they notice when you drive down Harden Street, that something doesn’t feel quite right. There’s not that retail synergy that you look for with other retailers that draw you to an area,” said Rox Pollard, Vice President and Director of Retail Services at Colliers International.

The plan also calls on the University of South Carolina to have more on-campus social activities, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

10-Point Plan to Renew Five Points

Developed by business and neighborhood leaders

 

  1. SET A 36-MONTH DURATION

Set up a 36-month program. If it works, it can be extended. If not, it can end.

Responsible: Columbia City Council

 

  1. IMPROVE THE CITY PARKING LOT APPEARANCE

The City of Columbia parking lot sets the appearance standard for Five Points. Develop and implement a resurfacing, landscape and lighting plan and add new signage. Remove unsightly meters and replace with a central payment kiosk. Make the City of Columbia parking lot look inviting and safe.

Responsible: City staff

  1. WAIVE WATER & SEWER EXPANSION FEES

Waive water and sewer expansion fees when applicable. These fees can be up to $8,000 per 1,000 square feet.

Responsible: Columbia City Council

  1. MAKE GREASE TRAP REQUIREMENT FLEXIBLE

Develop, promote and approve less-expensive alternatives for food service operations, without compromising water quality or harming the environment.

Responsible: City staff

  1. STREAMLINE THE PERMITTING PROCESS

Implement a fast-track permitting process for Five Points allowing small permits under $20,000 to be approved by the City of Columbia in 7 days, medium permits under $250,000 in 30 days, and large permits in 60 days.

Responsible: City staff

  1. INCREASE PARKING ACCESS AND AVAILABILITY
  • Waive on-site parking requirements. Today, the City can make businesses rent parking places, which could mean monthly costs up to $800 per thousand square feet of space.
  • Charge for street parking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which would encourage employees to park in the free municipal lots and facilitate faster turnover of spaces in front of businesses.
  • Remove unsightly street meters and convert to a central payment kiosk.
  • Dedicate parking revenue to Five Points parking improvements and landscaping.

Responsible: Columbia City Council

  1. REVIEW AND MODERNIZE THE FIVE POINTS ZONING OVERLAY

Establish a committee to review the Five Points Overlay and ensure its regulations are relevant today, including heights, required approvals, and density.

Responsible: Columbia City Council

  1. EXPAND SIDEWALK DINING

Encourage sidewalk dining by creating an annual permitting process and examine the use of “parklets” to provide more dining space for individual restaurants.

Responsible: City staff

  1. HOLD CITY OF COLUMBIA’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OFFICE ACCOUNTABLE

Have the City of Columbia’s Office of Economic Development create and implement a plan to recruit new businesses to Five Points to include:

  • Targeting specific city-center businesses for recruitment like destination retail, hotels, office space including co-working, specialty food stores, restaurants and cafes, and local small businesses, especially daytime businesses.
  • Assist with zoning, permitting and regulatory approvals.

Report progress monthly to the City Manager, City Council and Five Points Association.

Responsible: City staff

  1. CITY’S UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES TO PROMOTE WEEKENDON-CAMPUSSOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Encourage the University of South Carolina, Benedict College, Allen University and Columbia College to promote on-campus social activities on weekends, including, in USC’s case particularly, opening the Greek Village on Friday and Saturday nights for social events.

Responsible: University and college leaders

GOAL: Make it easier for new businesses to locate and open in Five Points.

 

Categories: Local News, News