Lewis Bozard's Commentary

Posted March 29, 2006 (user submitted)

Today the Shoppes at Woodhill occupies a hilltop location on busy Garners Ferry Road. Completed in late 2004, the upscale open-air center features Target, World Market, Bed Bath & Beyond, Panera Bread, Marble Slab Creamery, Starbucks Coffee, and Hampton Hill Athletic Club among other tenants. But before the redevelopment took place, the name Woodhill was associated with Woodhill Mall, opened in 1978 on the same site.

The L-shaped mall consisted of about 300,000 square feet and was anchored by Richway, as the base of the L, and Tapp?s, at the other end. The small enclosed mall was never a major destination for the Columbia market, but it was home over the years to some decent tenants like Casual Corner, Coplon?s fashions, Lourie?s men?s store, Morrison?s Cafeteria, Eckerd Drug, and B. Dalton Books. Tapp?s was a Columbia chain of relatively small department stores. The Richway store was one of three in Columbia, the discount operation of Rich?s Department Store of Atlanta. This Richway, like the others, had a distinctive architectural feature?orange and green wedge-shaped skylights cropping up atop the roof.

In 1986 the Richway chain was rebranded as Gold Circle. In 1989 it became Target. The mall fell on hard times and in 1991 the mortgage holder foreclosed. Attempts were made in the 1990s to revitalize the mall through facelifts, but gradually the mall continued to decline. A large blow came with the late 1995 announcement that the entire Tapp?s chain would close, leaving an empty anchor space. A freestanding Food Lion grocery store on the mall lot closed as well. By 2003 about two thirds of the mall was vacant.

Columbia-based Edens and Avant worked hard to redevelop the site. They convinced mall tenants Target, Hampton Hill Athletic Club, and Cici?s Pizza to remain on the site as tenants in the new development. This was no small feat, as Target agreed to completely close their location for almost a year while the old mall was demolished and the new store was constructed. The old Woodhill Mall can now only be visited in our memories, but it is good to know that a vital shopping destination has taken its place?one even more appealing and popular than the mall had ever been.

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