West Columbia welcomes college students back to school

Fall brings new life to West Columbia. The University of South Carolina is a major economic driver. It generates $41 million to the local community, according to Moore School economist Joseph Von Nessen.

West Columbia benefits when students come back to school.

Primal Gourmet accepts Carolina Card

Redtail on the River is marketed as the perfect place for USC students and “the best of West Columbia with an apartment located in the River District and only a short distance from USC classes.” It offers shuttles to the University of South Carolina, and convenient access to The Comet public transit system.

The occupancy rate at Redtail on the River supports reports that there is a high demand for housing in West Columbia. More than 120 new homes are being built on Dreher Road and 34 new homes are being added at St. Ann’s Alley, in the Center Street area.

Last Saturday, Redtail on the River was filled with the activity of students moving into their residences for the fall semester at USC. License plates in the parking include: Maryland, New Jersey; Ohio; Virginia, Florida; North Carolina and Georgia, among others. U-Haul boxes were abundant.

To attract those students, the West Columbia student housing community features barbecue grills, a swimming pool, and sport courts, with a 24-hour business center on site.

Redtail on the River, like all businesses in West Columbia, is practicing safety. So is USC

The University of South Carolina is offering free saliva-based COVID-19 testing to all students, faculty and staff throughout the semester. The SAFE (Saliva Assay Free Expedited) test is a non-invasive alternative to nasal swab tests and enables rapid test processing, typically delivering results within 24 hours.

The students moving in do shop locally for decorations.

Cafe Strudel

“We’ve seen traffic on State Street increase with the students coming back,” said Lainie Lewis of State Street Trading Company, at 134, State St. “I have students from USC’s Greek Village and students from the dorms come in.” And it’s not local. Lewis said customers from Colorado, New Jersey and Delaware have been in the shop. She is offering home decor, including art, along with dresses and tops in the Gamecock colors of garnet and black.

While living arrangements are important, so is entertainment.

For nightlife, New Brookland Tavern is a favorite spot for returning Gamecock students. New Brookland Tavern is being upgraded right now, but it will be reopening for students soon.

Ty Rowe of NBT said the venue sees “a spike when students return and look for a place with live music.” New Brookland Tavern, he said, is “an all ages venue and has shows that younger college students can attend.”
Restaurants are eager for students, too.

Trip Turbyfill, owner of Cafe Strudel on State Street, said the opening of school is good for business.

“Absolutely. he said. “We see an increase in volume when USC students come back to town.”

Redtail on the River

Primal Gourmet, at 725 Meeting St., directly markets to USC students.

Primal Gourmet accepts the Carolina Card, that is given to students upon enrollment at USC. Primal Gourmet encourages students to eat more balanced meals during the semester.

There will be even more opportunities for students when Savage Craft Ale Works opens. It is scheduled to open in the old West Columbia City Hall and Fire Station in October. WECO Bottle and Biergarten opened earlier in 2020 at 626 Meeting Street. It practices all COVID safety protocols and welcomes students.

With the beginning of classes at USC, the anticipation for a hopeful school year in West Columbia is apparent.