The South Carolina Department of Mental Health maintains a 178-acre campus situated in the northeast corner of Columbia’s immediate downtown. Today’s facility – bounded by Calhoun Street to the south, Bull Street to the west, Colonial Drive to the North, and Harden Street to the east -- began as a much smaller institution in 1828 within a state-of-the-art asylum designed by architect Robert Mills. Throughout the campus stand historically and architecturally significant structures that illustrate the evolution of the Department of Mental Health and state’s commitment to treating the mentally ill.
The final version of the Portland Block inspired plan uses a system of mostly one story retail spaces and three story residential buildings to achieve a mix of uses. The Portland Blocks are mixed-use in the sense that the uses are located in proximity, if not integrated vertically in each building as they are in the perimeter block. The Portland blocks could be assembled to create perimeter blocks.
The North-Eastern edge (on Harden Street) of both plans is identical and interchangeable with either office, residential, or mixed-use blocks.
The area at the intersection of Bull Street and Colonial drive is allocated to large format retailers and it uses the existing grid of trees to create additional overflow parking. The potential tenants have the option to choose from two footprints: one at 120,000 sf and the other at 75,000 sf. This area has the capacity to accommodate around 600-paved parking spaces and 500 extra spaces of overflow parking under the existing trees. Coincidentally the trees were planted in a 60’-0” module, which works perfectly for parking.
The main entrances to the big boxes to the west face the parking lot and their backs are lined with shallow office space and/or retail. The YMCA building has two entrances, a more formal on the urban side, which is highlighted by a paved plaza, and a secondary entrance at the back of the building.
The two parking garages on Bull Street have been strategically located to provide additional parking for the YMCA (or a similar type of civic structure), the baseball stadium and for holiday overflow from the large format retailers. Depending on the market needs, these two parking garages could have a reduced footprint with less parking.
The baseball stadium to the south enjoys an orderly location placed in procession behind the Babcock Building and provides ready access from the restaurants and shops of Main St. as well as from the Babcock Building.
This area has the highest concentration of apartment houses and townhouses. It has been plotted on a 12’ increment with the smallest lot measuring 24’ and the largest 72’. The proximity to the Main St. makes this area appealing to buyers and renters. The townhouses have the potential to include Granny Flats above their garages.