One of Columbia’s most distinct buildings threw itself a party on Monday.
The Arcade Mall at the corner of Main and Washington streets celebrated its grand re-opening with refreshments from retail tenants and remarks from developer and building co-owner Ron Swinson of Peach Properties. The company bought the building in 2015 and has been renovating its terra cotta façade and interior, columns, balcony and first-floor retail shops since.
“While we call this a grand re-opening, it’s probably more of a thank-you to a lot of the people who were involved in bringing the Arcade back from where it was,” Swinson said.
Swinson acknowledged construction, engineering, financial, and legal supporters among the few dozen people gathered in the Arcade, gussied up for the holidays with greenery and splashed with afternoon sun filtering through its skylights. He also recognized the building’s tenants, singling out those who have been there throughout the renovation process.
“That was three and a half years of construction and a lot of mess,” said Swinson, who added, “I don’t know if we ever will be finished. There will always be something to do at the Arcade.”
Built in 1912, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently home to Granger Ownings clothiers, Swanson’s Deli, Pita Pit, His and Hers Tailoring, Blue Sky Art Gallery and Indah Coffee, among other tenants. Stoner’s Pizza is slated to open a franchise on the Washington Street side of the building this month.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the Arcade’s renovation illustrates a national trend of people being drawn to vibrant urban areas and revitalized downtowns, and “most of all, authentic experiences,” he said. “We’re excited about the next 100 years.”
The building also once housed Columbia Down Under, a subterranean, interconnected maze of bars and restaurants, from 1972-1977. The Arcade’s owners are considering how to reutilize the 16,000 square feet of basement space.