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Q+A with Seth Rose: What’s next for the Pope-Davis Tire building?

The State Representative and owner of this downtown building shares his vision for a unique restaurant concept in the Pickens/Taylor Street area.

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An exterior image of the Pope-Davis Tire Building in Columbia, SC.

What do you think should move into the Pope-Davis Tire building on 1531 Taylor St.?

Photo provided by NAI Columbia

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Seth Rose, a local attorney and elected official representing Columbia’s State District 72, recently purchased the property adjacent to his law office: the Pope-Davis Tire building. His goal? “To create something fun that enhances Columbia’s cultural and commercial offerings, improving walkability in an area dominated by vehicle traffic.”

Rose is working with NAI Columbia to find the perfect tenant, and we want your help, too. What would you like to see move into this Taylor St. space? Read on to learn more about Rose’s vision for the property, and be sure to vote below.

Special thanks to Janie Campbell, Preservation Consultant with Rogers Lewis Jackson Mann & Quinn, LLC, for her valuable insights on the project’s potential impact on the community.

1. What kind of tenant do you envision for the space?

The Pope-Davis Tire building is well-known and sits on a busy road with high visibility. I’ve invested in it, including putting on a new roof. It’s also next to the historic Robert Mills House and Gardens. I envision a vibrant restaurant like Leon’s in Charleston, that would excite Soda Citizens.

2. What kind of atmosphere or vibe does the space have?

The building, which has served automobiles since 1947, has a light industrial vibe with exposed brick, metal-framed windows, and lots of natural light from the storefront windows on Taylor Street. The steel structure on the corner provides a covered outdoor space for an indoor/outdoor experience, which is vital for a thriving business, as we saw during Covid.

3. What kind of feedback have you heard from locals about the types of businesses they’d love to see move in?

Everyone who walks through this building thinks it’s incredible. Mayor Rickenmann thinks it’s a cool spot. My neighbors, many of whom are lawyers, want a nearby place to eat. There are numerous law firms around with no convenient options for lunch or happy hour.

How it would impact the area

4. How do you think a new restaurant or business could transform the Pickens/Taylor Street area and complement existing spots like the Township Auditorium?

Imagine visitors enjoying dinner and drinks before a show at the Township, with a stroll through the Robert Mills gardens in between. Located four blocks from Main Street and the BullStreet District, this spot can connect long-separated areas of Columbia.

The 1500 block of Taylor Street also features architecturally interesting buildings, like the mid-century ones at 1523-1525 and the Art Deco buildings at 1514-1516. An inspiring renovation here could spur development and increase vibrancy to Taylor Street and the Robert Mills historic district.

5. What are some key things you’re looking for when choosing the right tenant?

For me, it’s not just about collecting rent. I’m very selective and want something fun and successful. People have presented ideas that aren’t fun — I’d like to see a concept that’s both enjoyable and proven to succeed.

6. If you could bring any type of business to this space (the sky’s the limit), what would it be and why?

I’m open to all ideas, but I’d love a concept similar to Leon’s, Kickin’ Chicken, or Fuel Charleston — a spot that embraces its former use while providing tasty eats and ample outdoor space.

7. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the community about your goals for this space?

The nearby Township Auditorium hosts concerts throughout the year, and thousands of people spill out with nowhere to eat. The Robert Mills House and Gardens has many daytime events, but attendees have limited dining options. This development is an opportunity to bring vibrancy back to a prominent corner in downtown Columbia.

See the property

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