Consolidation Opportunity.

I recently came across a news article in The State Newspaper that hailed Columbia’s Main Street resurgence but was curious about the suburbs of the Midlands. The article specifically called out the traditional shopping malls, most notably, Richland Fashion Mall.

It’s getting a little late so I’ll get right to it. We all know Richland Mall is a mess. Popularity, ownership, leases, culture, tradition, layout, parking garage (un)popularity, municipality struggles/problems,  and overall mojo leave a generation and a half shaking their heads.

I wrote, in 2010, The best idea I could think of was for Richland County to purchase it and lease the unused space to other governments. The DMV, City of Forest Acres, Richland County and different segments of state government (DOT?) could call the space home. I thought it was a good fit because all of the government vehicles could be parked (protected) in the garage.

Further still, and I know this is outside of traditionalist thinking, much of the City of Columbia services could call the structure home. Does anyone love paying a Main Street parking meter to the city… to transfer their city water bill… after a real estate closing in the city?

Conversely, do the retailers and restaurants love a bunch of cars taking up those parking spots in the new, super popular Main Street District? Doubt it.

Even further, this could move the City of Forest Acres Admin building, which may help pave a way for some traffic to flow from the former Cardinal Newman School and the new Lowe’s Grocery onto Trenholm Road, perhaps relieving some inevitably inflated Forest Drive congestion.

Consolidate – “Combine (a number of things) into a single more effective or coherent whole.”

Opportunity – “A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”

I don’t pretend to know all the particulars, but in my bias, the notion is at least worth looking into. It may turn an unanswerable conundrum into a rare win/win/win/win/win for South Carolina, Richland County, Forest Acres, City of Columbia, and the citizens/taxpayers.

Just a fleeting seven-year thought.

Thank you!

Franklin Jones


  1. The amount of deferred maintenance on Richland Mall and its parking garage tells me that it is fit for nothing more than the wrecking ball. The current owner doesn’t even bother to replace burned out light bulbs in common spaces anymore, I can’t imagine they’re putting money into inevitable water intrusion on a building/garage that age, etc, etc.

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