The BullStreet District is kind of like coffee: It's taking a while to brew, but it's starting to turn into something flavorful.
The development at the former state mental hospital campus has announced its second national retailer: Starbucks will open a freestanding coffee shop on the site, adjacent to the currently under-construction REI Co-op. The 2,500-square-foot Starbucks will have a drive-thru and patio seating. The coffee shop is expected to open in the spring of 2021.
“One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is about whether BullStreet is getting a Starbucks,” Hughes Development Corporation president Robert Hughes said in a Nov. 1 release. “I’m happy to report that Starbucks is coming, and it will be positioned perfectly to accommodate commuters as well as those who live and work in and near the district.”
Hughes Development, of Greenville, and the City of Columbia have been working for years to redevelop the sprawling 181-acre site that once was home to the state's mental hospital. The city is committed to roughly $100 million in public investment at BullStreet, which included the construction of the Segra Park baseball stadium, infrastructure and yet-to-be-constructed parking garages.
Developers have long insisted that BullStreet would be a 20-year development process, and landing national retailers has been a particularly methodical portion of the equation.
But the project is seeing some momentum.
Construction is well underway on the aforementioned REI store, which is set to open in late spring 2020. Construction also is moving along on Merrill Gardens, the senior living complex just northeast of Segra Park. And development of a public park east of the stadium, which included daylighting a creek, continues.
On Oct. 28, developers announced work could soon begin on converting the Babcock Building — with it's iconic, instantly recognizable cupola — into 200 apartments. The first two phases of that project could be done in two years.
“We’re converting a huge, deteriorating and desolate property into a growing and vibrant community that’s creating jobs, contributing to the tax base and adding immeasurably to the region,” City Councilman Howard Duvall said in the release.