COLUMBIA — North side Columbians can expect a major retailer, possibly a grocer, to join the neighborhood as Rampart Investments LLC talks with various retailers about locating in the shopping center it plans for the corner of Range Line Street and Blue Ridge Road.
“We are going to get a shopping center in there that will generate a lot of sales tax revenue for the city,” said David Atkins, managing member of Rampart Investments LLC. “My hope is we will land a grocery store.”
He added that negotiations have been in the works with several large retail chains. At least one of the prospects would provide groceries. When asked which grocer Rampart had entered negotiations with, Atkins said he was “not at liberty to say.”
The company began the excavation at the intersection about a year ago by moving land and demolishing a Civil War-era mansion owned by the Guitars, a prominent Columbia family.
Atkins thinks this shopping center would not only be a huge convenience for residents of the north side, but that it will also help the local economy.
“I think it will be a boom for the north side of Columbia,” Atkins said. “The standard of living is fantastic. It is close to the interstate and the university, but there is just no place to get your taxes or grocery shopping done. I think it will be easier for the people to work, shop and enjoy themselves.”
Some north side residents said they were pleased with the prospect of having a shopping center close to home.
“I think it will be good for jobs,” said Fredrick Eugene Rowe, a pedicure technician at Answer Salon, which would be across the street from the new shopping center. “I think they are doing a good job.”
North side resident James Beckham echoed Rowe’s positive sentiment: “It would be really nice to have a grocery store so close to home. It would save me a lot of time and money.”
Colby Tinsley, of the Walnut Slope Riding School, said she wasn’t enthused about the arrival of the shopping center.
“I don’t like it, but there is nothing I can do about it,” she said. “It’s forcing us to relocate. We have to be out by Sept. 30 of this year.”
Atkins said that Rampart has yet to submit development plans to the city but that he hopes actual construction of the shopping center will begin "sooner rather than later.”