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Investments, new student housing spark Vista growth

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By Chuck Crumbo
Published Feb. 20, 2014

Retail shops and restaurants moving into Columbia’s Vista neighborhood aim to attract some of the 2,500 University of South Carolina students and young professionals who’ll be living in six residential units planned for the area.

The residential units are just part of nearly $400 million worth of investments that either are under way in the Vista area or planned, said Sarah Lewis, executive director of the Congaree Vista Guild.

Those investments include five public projects such as the $95 million Darla Moore School of Business and the $29 million expansion of the S.C. State Museum, which will include an observatory and planetarium theater.

Also in the works are the $26.5 million USC Alumni Center, $25 million USC Holder Partnership office building and the $18 million Hyatt Place Hotel.

One of the new retailers slated to open in the Vista is Entourage, an Athens, Ga.-based chain that’s moving into about 2,700 square feet of space at 701 Lady St.

The Columbia store, scheduled to host its grand opening March 8, is the company’s seventh location. District manager Kristen Alexander said the other locations are in college towns in Georgia and South Carolina.

Entourage is a boutique-style retailer that sells affordable and stylish women’s clothing, shoes and accessories, Alexander said. None of the items cost more than $42, she added.

Also arriving in the Vista is the Black Bean Co., a Charleston-based eatery that offers organic and all-natural food selections. Black Bean, which has three locations in the Charleston area, plans to open its first Columbia store in April at 701 Gervais St.

Carolina Couture, a bridal store, recently opened its second location in Columbia at 929 Gervais St. The company’s other location is in the Village at Sandhill.

Nonnah’s, a longtime Vista business, is in the process of remodeling and expanding 930 Gervais St., Lewis added.

Deals are in the works to bring more restaurants and shops to the neighborhood, Lewis said, adding that it was too early to announce the newcomers.

“We’re growing fast, and we will continue to grow,” said Larry Hembree, president of the Vista Guild board.

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