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Proposed Vista microbrewery takes step forward

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It looks as though the Vista will be getting another microbrewery.

The City of Columbia Board of Zoning Appeals granted an exception to establish a drinking place to the proposed Columbia Craft Brewing Company, to be located at the corner of Huger and Greene streets.

The board agreed with Columbia architect Dan Sherer and local CPA Richard Strauss, who has the property under contract, that the proposed business met the criteria necessary for the exception, including being a required distance from schools and other drinking establishments, having no negative effect on public safety, and being appropriate for its urban location.

The plans call for the renovation of an existing 4,900-square-foot warehouse into a 3,500-square-foot microbrewery with an 1,800-square-foot tasting room that necessitated the exception. An existing 7,500-square-foot brick retail building facing Huger Street would be demolished and replaced with a 400-square-foot patio seating area, parking, landscaping. A food truck may be made available for events such as home football games for the University of South Carolina.

Sherer, of Sherer & Associates, said architectural details such as a brick veneer, corrugated metal awnings and an overhead door in the front will give the renovated warehouse a rustic feel.

"We’re going to build a new set of walls inside the existing frame," Sherer said. "We don’t want it to look like a brand-new building, but we want it to look a lot better than it does right now." 

A loading dock would face Pulaski Street and have no adverse effect on traffic, Strauss told the board, and planned landscaping would improve the aesthetic appearance of the property.

Sherer said the project likely has another two weeks in the design/development stage, which may include securing approval from the city's Design/Development Review Commission, depending on final construction costs.  

"We're probably 10 to 12 weeks from actually starting construction," he said.  “ ... We feel like this is a good complement to all the work that’s going to be going on on Greene Street with all the renovations."

Efforts are underway to transform Greene Street, which cuts through the heart of the University of South Carolina campus, into a narrow, tree-lined passage connecting USC to the riverfront. Funded by Richland County’s Transportation Penny Program, the corridor will include a tree-filled plaza across from the entrance to Colonial Life Arena.

The Vista and downtown Columbia have seen a surge in craft beer-buoyed businesses in recent years as a trend anchored by Main Street mainstay Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Alehouse shows no signs of slowing. Twisted Spur Brewing opened on Gervais Street this past spring and was joined by The Casual Pint this summer, with River Rat Brewery growing on Shop Road.

Strauss stressed that the Columbia Craft Brewing Company will mainly be a production facility, with most of its product leaving the premises and distributed under South Carolina’s three-tier system. There will not be a full bar, beer will not be sold in bottles or cans, and the establishment will not keep late-night hours, he said.  

"It’s going to be a really unique type of building in that particular area," Sherer said. "A lot of that’s happening down in the Vista on Gervais Street, but I like the location. It’s a little bit separated. Of course, all of that is about to come together, but I like the fact that is a little bit separated from all of that and will tie to the river. I think it’s a good fit."

A motion to grant the exception passed unanimously.

View the plans for the brewery here.


Contact Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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