After a couple of years of speculation that a food hall could be developed in Columbia, plans officially were announced Monday confirming that BullStreet will become the home of the city’s first food hall.
With a planned opening in 2023, Sanctuary Food Hall is envisioned to be a 19,000-square-foot hub for small food and beverage businesses based locally and regionally to open their first brick-and-mortar locations. It expects to house between 15 and 20 vendors of various sizes “from micro-enterprises to full-service restaurants and bars,” according to a news release.
There will also be space for outdoor dining, live music, events and private gatherings.
“What we envision is an assortment of eateries that offer a wide variety of food and drink options, spanning many food cultures that reflect Columbia’s remarkable diversity,” Ed Lee, founder of Creative Culinary Ventures, said in a news release. “Patrons will be able to pop in for a quick bite or make it a full-blown culinary experience by meeting up with friends and family and sampling dishes from multiple vendors. We see Sanctuary Food Hall as a place where people can get that wonderful feeling of becoming regulars, making friends with the people behind the food, and supporting an array of creative small businesses in the process.”
The same developers opened Marietta Square Market food hall, outside Atlanta, in a renovated warehouse in 2019. There, 18 food vendors sell their fares ranging from Korean, Cuban and Cajun cuisine to crepes, lobster rolls, burgers and barbecue.
“Based on our experience developing Marietta Square Market Food Hall, we know that a concept like this creates opportunities for locals to connect with smaller, distinctive food and beverage vendors who might not otherwise have a formal location,” Lee said. “It also creates an opportunity for expansion for existing full-service restaurants in a prime downtown district.”
Food halls have become trendy in dining, with a number of concepts popping up regionally in recent years — seeing varying degrees of success — in Charleston, Greenville, Charlotte, Raleigh and beyond. Sanctuary is the first to enter the Columbia market.
The Sanctuary Food Hall is the latest in a string of development announcements at BullStreet, the 181-acre former state mental hospital campus that is now home to Columbia’s minor league baseball stadium, a public park, offices, townhomes, a senior-living community, a church and event space, REI Co-op and a Starbucks, with a slew of new developments on the way.
Under construction now is the five-story WestLawn office building, along with a pair of parking garages and some 200 luxury apartments being built in the historic Babcock Building. Another new apartment development, Bennet at BullStreet, was just announced, with 260 apartments and retail space planned to open in 2023. Iron Hill Brewery still plans to open near Starbucks along Bull Street, officials have said, though construction has been delayed.
BullStreet has been hailed as one of the largest commercial development projects on the East Coast, with a 20-year build-out planned. Activity at the district first unfolded in 2016 with the opening of the first Columbia Fireflies baseball season at what is now called Segra Park stadium. The city of Columbia has invested tens of millions of public dollars into parts of the overhaul of the once-abandoned campus, led by master developer Hughes Development Corp., of Greenville.