Matthew Kessenich's Commentary

Posted January 8, 2006(user submitted)

Columbia Place Mall appears to be heading towards the end of it's life. I first visited this mall last weekend and saw a number of signs of it's likely demise. The mall is a fairly large regional mall with about 120 stores and two floors of shopping. From the architecture present, I believe it was likely built in the late 1960's or early 1970's but it's obviously been renovated since. The exterior is rather plain but the interior features a fairly clean and well maintained 1980's style update. The anchors of the mall are Macy's, Sears, and Dillard's. As far as I know this is the only Macy's location in South Carolina. The rest of the stores are about 50% national and 50% local ranging from local jewelry stores and a airbrushing store to national names like Cato and Claires.

Now the signs of it's demise. First, there is a very high concentration of small local shops in the mall. Many of them seem to be on the border of appearing as a flea market stand. Some have no more than a banner hung to indicate there name and many of these banors are just hung right over the remnants of the previous tenent's sign (I was actually able to pick out the names of a few including Kay Jewelers and Victoria's Secret. Obviously this mall has seen better days). There is also one empty anchor for this mall that, from the scars on the walls and a few trampled signs inside appears to be a former JC Penney. I can only assume that JC Penney decided to close after the other large Columbia mall (Columbiana Centre which also has a JC Penney) received a heavy face lift and has become a very heavily traveled mall. It appears as though they've attempted to replace the traffic by bringing in an Old Navy store for that wing. However, the store is a very small Old Navy location and with the large caged entrance to the former anchor looming it makes for a dingy and dark corner of the mall that was fairly deserted. I visited on a Saturday and the Old Navy only had three employees working from what I could see which probably doesn't say much for the level of business they are enjoying. The exterior of the mall is also not very inviting. The facade of the building is chipping all around and the parking lots are barely passable in some areas. In addition the once proud sign for the mall is in terrible need of a face lift and appears ready to tumble.

I don't believe the Columbia Place has much time left. The rebirth of the Columbiana Centre which is of similar size is possibly to blame. The Centre features a brand new appearance both inside and out which even includes a brand new sign and freshly blacktopped parking lot. The mall is even featuring the most alluring tenents right now including Starbucks and Parisian. However, Columbia should be large enough to sustain two regional malls and Columbia Place is nearly on the opposite end of town. It's location is also only a block from the interstate and it's even visible from the interstate if you're traveling north. It's possible that the mall may soon be bought out for a face lift because it's size and location seem to make for a bright outlook. It's poor upkeep and apparently non-existant marketing savy seem to be what's bringing it down.

Simon Hamilton's Commentary

Posted January 28, 2006(user submitted)

Columbia Place opened in 1977 as the first mall in the Carolina's that had 2 levels. Original anchors were Belk, JCPenney, Rich's and Sears. The mall was the dominant mall in Columbia for years featuring exclusive stores not found anywhere else. During the late 80s crime picked up at the mall and teenagers made regular customers feel uncomfortable shopping. Columbiana Centre opened in or around 1990 and over a period of time became the dominant regional mall. There was a tug of war for some time. Late in the 90s O'Charleys and Don Pablo's Mexican Restaurant would open. Within 3 years both restaurants closed citing the new Village At Sandhill that would open. CBL & Associates aquired Columbia Place through a buyout of several malls and overhauled the mall with a multimillion dollar renovation.

Since its purchase, Columbia has attracted many new tenants. Columbia Place lost JCPenney, but CBL has done so much to revitalize the mall, including bringing in Sticky Fingers and upscale Charleston Crab House to replace Don Pablo's and O'Charleys. Inside the mall you'll find national brands such as Limited, American Eagle, Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, Kay Jewelers, and more recently Charlotte Russe. A few local tenants have opened in Columbia Place with an attractive layout. Since JCPenney has left the mall has moved local stores closer to the former space due to new leases this year from two new stores. Columbia Place will thrive under the leadership of CBL. It currently features Dillard's, Macy's and Sears and the largest Old Navy in the Carolinas and only store with two levels.

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