Economic numbers and city planners point to strong accommodations, hospitality and business growth in West Columbia

The City of West Columbia has made a lot of progress in the last five years. That was the assessment of Sharon McCormick of Redevelopment Management Associates. She was referring to West Columbia’s Citywide Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan that was initiated in 2018. 

McCormick spoke at the West Columbia City Council meeting, Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

RMA rendering of Capitol Square proposal

“West Columbia has built the door and opened it wide,” McCormick said. She presented a graphic that showed the development of the River District’s Brookland project at the corner of State and Meeting streets that includes 4West luxury apartments. Flow Riverfront Townhomes is another successful project in the River District. 

McCormick also said West Columbia has made “tremendous strides” in the redevelopment of Meeting Street and Meeting Street will be enhanced with the reduction of Meeting Street from four lanes to two lanes, from State Street to Ninth Street. That project is scheduled to be completed by 2026.

Other notable progress in West Columbia includes Sunset Boulevard at I-26 where Lexington Medical Center has built a USC Nurses School and a Physicians Training Center in the past year. 

There are also two hotels, Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites, that have been built off of Sunset Boulevard in the last five years. 

Earlier in the meeting, Katherine Call, West Columbia Director of Community Development, said that hotel accommodations rose in West Columbia in the last fiscal year by more than 25 percent. 

Michael Mayo is a member of the Accommodations Tax Committee. He said that more people are staying because West Columbia has made an effort to attract visitors.

“Every year, we’ve seen a growth in the number of people staying in West Columbia,” he said. Mayo is the owner of Palmetto Outdoor, which offers guided tubing trips down the Congaree River that end at the West Columbia Riverwalk. 

“Recreational tourism and hotels, retail and restaurants go hand-in-hand,” Mayo said. “The City of West Columbia has supported the infrastructure that has made economic growth possible. West Columbia also offers events like Rhythm on the River, which begins this year on May 18, along with Kinetic Derby Day in April and the Meeting Street Music Fest in September. People come here and some stay for those events.”

Another gauge of growth in West Columbia was related by RMA. Data presented at the council meeting indicated that there has been a 26 percent increase in the number of businesses coming to West Columbia in the last five years. Those businesses include many restaurants that are recording a substantial increase in sales each year. 

The population and tax base is also growing in West Columbia. City Administrator Brian Carter reported that the West Columbia 2024-25 fiscal-year budget of $25 million would be balanced without any tax increases on citizens.

Carter also said that the city’s water-sewer budget was $24,215,000. He said it is rare for a municipality’s general fund budget to be higher than the water-sewer, or facilities, budget. Carter credited sound financial principles by the city council as the reason for the “exceptional situation.” It is the first time it has happened in West Columbia. 

Also speaking for RMA were: Rene Miller; Lynne Bellinger; and Lorena Ledesma. They said projects that are likely to be developed in the future are Capitol Square; the Colite property and Triangle City. Capitol Square could be the site of a fresh market type grocery store, along with other retail shops and residential units. 

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