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City design commission greenlights Kline City Center

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By Chris Cox
Published Sept. 11, 2015

Russ Davis has had his eyes on the former Kline Iron & Steel Co. site for 10 years. And the Greenville-based developer is now one step closer to seeing his longtime passion project come to life.

“I’ve known and talked to Jerry Kline (former president of Kline Iron & Steel) about buying this site for a decade,” Davis said. “So for me to get this approval — we’ll have to get through the city council — but once we get those two things done, it will be really gratifying.”

Homes Urban now takes its plans for Kline City Center to Columbia City Council for final approval of the site plan. (Image/Provided)
Homes Urban now takes its plans for Kline City Center to Columbia City Council for final approval of the site plan. (Image/Provided)
Davis and Homes Urban received approval Thursday from the city of Columbia’s Design-Development Review Commission to move forward on a $100 million mixed-use project at the corner of Huger and Gervais streets, one of the few remaining large, undeveloped parcels in downtown Columbia.

The four-building project, which would include a 140-room hotel, office, retail space and up to 350 condos or apartments, must now go before City Council to receive approval for changes to its site plan. The first reading is scheduled for Sept. 15 and a second reading is slated for Oct. 6.

Once that process is complete, Homes Urban will be in position to submit for building permits and “get this thing started,” Davis said. The property has been in the Kline family for more than 90 years.

“It’s our full expectation to be closed by the end of November and under construction before the first of the year,” Davis said.

The project will be done in two phases, and only the first two buildings received approval Thursday afternoon. The first phase will involve the construction of two 50,000-square-foot buildings, parking garages and infrastructure for the overall development.

One of the Phase I buildings, located at the corner of Huger and Washington streets, would include residential and restaurant-retail space on the first floor, with parking to the west of the building adjacent to the S.C. Electric & Gas substation. The second building, a five- to six-story structure, would be built on Gervais, along the western edge of the property. The other two buildings would be built at the corner of Gervais and Huger.

The second phase would include a hotel, which will have to go through its own approval process and has also posed height concerns to Vista residents, and a 50,000-square-foot residential-commercial building.

Davis said he does not know about retail tenants, but expects that to come soon.

“We don’t have anybody specifically,” he said. “We have a number of people who we are talking to. Will it get done prior to December? Probably not, but certainly in the next six months we expect to know who we’re going to have there.”

Kline Iron & Steel, a Columbia-based manufacturer of broadcast towers, moved onto the site in 1923. The company was acquired by American Tower Corp. in 2003 and a year later sold to SPX Corp. In 2004, the company left the Columbia site and the last building was razed in 2006.

That year the Kline family offered a plan to develop a complex with more than 400 condos, 60,000 square feet of retail, an office building and a hotel. But the $120 million plan was scrapped once the economic downturn hit.

Reach Chris Cox at 803-726-7545 or on Twitter @chrisbcox.

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