A firm foundation

The transformation of Lincoln and Greene

If you haven’t walked around the intersection of Greene and Lincoln streets lately, you’re in for a surprise – a good one.

It’s Foundation Square, the latest gem of the Greene Street corridor, a pedestrian- and bike-friendly gateway that eventually will connect the university with the Congaree River in Columbia’s Vista.

On the four corners you’ll find

  • Colonial Life Arena, the home for major athletic and entertainment events.
  • Green space, an open lawn and amphitheater style seating for pre- and post-event gatherings, impromptu concerts and performances that showcase the talent of Carolina’s music students.
  •  A University of South Carolina-themed restaurant that raises its garage-style doors onto an open deck made of ipe wood and a public seating area outfitted with LED lights. Above the 1801 Grille, hundreds of Carolina students live in new apartments in the 650 Lincoln Street development.
  •  A collection of gardens and water features in the southwest corner, with four large granite blocks that will house pieces of sculpture.

“We look at Foundation Square as the heart of Innovista in the west campus district,” said Yancey Modesto, campus developer for University Facilities Planning and Programming. “Live, work, learn and play all come together at this particular intersection. We have the arena, which is an event space. We have the academics with the business school. We’ve got the (Discovery) research building. We have restaurants and housing.”

The 1801 Grille, which opened in February, is being operated by the Harper’s Group. The walls are decorated with Carolina memorabilia and the restaurant’s architectural design honors the university’s history — including some original brickwork from the historic Horseshoe wall. The menu features Southern food traditions (everything from smoked chicken and grilled burgers to oysters and other seafood dishes). There’s also a fully stocked bar with local craft beers and specialty cocktails inspired by the region’s history.

While the original design called for the restaurant to be contained within the footprint of 700 Lincoln St., “we thought that pulling a certain portion of that restaurant out into the patio, having garage doors open up and allow the seating to extend into the courtyard would basically make that seamless connection between the outdoor and indoor space,” Modesto said. “And that turned out to be really, really fantastic.”

Events will be planned for game days, for example, with lights, music and potentially an outdoor projector to show the games.

“People can go in the restaurant, have a bite, have a drink, come out and celebrate game day. We’re excited that the restaurant is open, the public can come in, the university community can come in and participate in the Carolilna experience.”

Phase 2 of the Greene Street project will bridge the railroad tracks west of the arena, while the final phase will eventually connect the campus to the Congaree River. The project, with its shaded sidewalks, green spaces, bike lanes and sustainable design, makes the area more inviting and accessible for the campus community.

“We’ve added bike lanes on Greene Street, and that’s part of the whole mission of Foundation Square and the Greene Street development. Riding a bike from the Russell House all the way to the river, and students enjoying the connectivity just by walking or riding a bike is just such a big thing. We definitely want to encourage our students to do that.”

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