Main Street.It’s the historic heart of the city. It’s thefinancial and political center of the state.It’s the region’s emerging arts district. Andit has more opportunity for new retail, res-taurants and clubs than any other district inthe city. And unless you live or work there, youprobably haven’t visited it in years.Perhaps you should. With Mast General Store opening, a newNickelodeon art house cinema, new restau-rants and clubs, an emerging arts sceneand almost monthly festivals, markets,tours and crawls, Main Street is becominglivelier than it has been since the depart-ment stores fled for the suburbs some threedecades ago.“We’ve got to pull people back to MainStreet,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin, who ismaking the kind of push to turn the streetinto a destination as his predecessor BobCoble did for the nearby Vista.City leaders have spent more than adecade and millions of dollars trying torevitalize Main Street, which has long beenpegged as a retail destination.But this year has brought a series of projects, programs and events that hassparked new life in the old shoppingdistrict. Among them:
The North Carolina-based Mast GeneralStore in the old Lourie’s building, whichopens this week and promises to be a desti-nation for shoppers and attract otherretailers.
A new Nickelodeon art house theaterand media center, being built in the formerFox Theater next to Lourie’s beginning inNovember, which would bring foot trafficto the street day and night and spur otherarts activities in the area.
A new garage at Sumter and Taylorstreets that will help ease the parkingcrunch.
A city program intended to help buildingowners improve their facades should makethe area more attractive.
A dozen artists’ studios in the ArcadeMall and a proposal for an arts space in theTapps Building.
New clubs and restaurants such as White Mule, Zoe’s and a Braziliansteakhouse.
And a string of newer festivals andevents: First Thursdays, Wing Fling and theUrban Tour.Benjamin even wants a jam-up New Year’s event. No word on whether that willinclude dropping the Big Chicken.“There’s a lot going on in downtownColumbia,” Benjamin said. “We have a vibrant Vista and a vibrant Five Points andagreat 27,000-student university.“But we have to go on pushing the im-portance of having a vibrant Main Street. If you are going to have a great city — not agood city but a great city — you have tohave a great urban core. And we have themakings of that here on Main Street.”
GATHERING ON MAIN
Festivals and regular events thatbring people to Main Street
Main Street Marketplace.
10 a.m. to2 p.m. each Friday in May, June, Septemberand October on Boyd Plaza in front of theColumbia Art Museum. Crafts, fruits, localspecialties, organic food and vegetables
Columbia Open Studios.
Art studiosinside the historic Arcade Mall, 1332 Main St.,are open as part of this weekend’s citywideartists studio tour, which continues today fromnoon to 6 p.m.
6-9 p.m. on the firstThursday of each month. Businesses keep their doors open late, offering a mix of spe-cials, events, art and entertainment
Happy Hour History Tour.
5:30-7:30p.m. Fridays in May and October. A guided tourstarting at the State House offers insight into the city’s history, focusing on life on MainStreet and in the downtown corridor. Partici-pants stop at historic sites and receive twofree beverages and appetizers along the way.Reservations required. Call (803) 252-1770,ext. 24, or email email@example.com
April 2012. Live entertain-ment, a glimpse into downtown living spacesand special offers and giveaways from mer-chants
ONLINE AT THESTATE.COM
Interactive walking tour:
Take a block-by-block walking tour down Main Street
Staff photography that provides a peekinside Main Street businesses, apartments and condos
Main Street highlights, including videosproduced by the Historic Columbia Foundation on somekey architectural features
PRODUCING THIS SECTION
Adam Beam, Dawn Hinshaw, Jeff Wilkinson
John Sherrer, director of cultural resources,Historic Columbia Foundation
C. Aluka Berry, Kim Kim Foster-Tobin,Tracy Glantz, Gerry Melendez
Kelly Davis, Rachael Lowe
MAIN STREET’S 4 ROLES
Main, on the cusp ofanew life, is city’sheart, power center
2. HEART OF THE CITY
Jessie Rearden prepares her arts and crafts booth for the Main Street Marketplace, one of the events and businesses thathave been drawing people to Main Street, in good times and bad.
3. EMERGING ARTS DISTRICT
The Columbia Art Museum, Main Street’s anchor, is being joined by otherarts venues.
KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN/KKFOSTER@THESTATE.COM
4. MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR RETAIL > > >
Mast General Store, which opens Wednesday, is expected to usher in a new wave of shops and restaurants.
SUNDAY, MAY 22, 2011| THE STATE | WWW.THESTATE.COM
Folks make their way down MainStreet, headed toward Gervais Street.
C. ALUKA BERRY/CABERRY@THESTATE.COM
By JEFF WILKINSON
1. THE STATE’SFINANCIAL ANDPOLITICAL CENTER
High-rises — three built in the pastseven years — are home to bankers,lawyers, politicians, lobbyists andbureaucrats.
C. ALUKA BERRY/CABERRY@THESTATE.COMC. ALUKA BERRY/CABERRY@THESTATE.COM