The growing BullStreet District near downtown Columbia already offers a wealth of different experiences, from minor league Columbia Fireflies baseball at Segra Park to dining, shopping and outdoor activities. A variety of businesses including Scout Motors now have offices there, and hundreds of people have moved into the district’s residential offerings.

Something entirely different is coming in the next few years, however — BullStreet also will become a central hub for educating a future generation of physicians in South Carolina.

In December, the University of South Carolina’s board of trustees approved designs and released renderings for a new USC School of Medicine and research building which will be part of the university’s 16-acre health sciences campus located at BullStreet.

Construction for the project is anticipated to begin in 2025 and be complete by 2027.

To keep members of the community up to date on the project, the university held a public engagement meeting about the project at BullStreet’s First Base building on June 25, offering information about the project’s progress and the impacts it will have not only on the BullStreet District but the area at large.

The building will be located between Harden Street Extension and the 20-acre Page Ellington Park inside the BullStreet District.

It will replace USC’s current medical school facility located next to the Department of Veterans Affairs campus on Garners Ferry Road in east Columbia. That site has been the medical school’s location since 1980 but its lease is running out in 2030, and university officials say it is time to move forward on their own facility rather than a rented location. Groundbreaking is set for this fall.

Developers of the BullStreet District say the university’s project will add an important element to the rapidly growing urban community.

“We’ve always said we wanted BullStreet to have a little bit of everything, and the student and academic component of the medical school will add to the overall vibrancy of the community,” said Chandler Cox, BullStreet project manager for Hughes Development out of Greenville, master developer for BullStreet. “The students and staff will be integrated into the Bull Street campus, and the location enables them to be closer to the heart of the city of Columbia. We’re really excited about the energy they’re going to bring to BullStreet and think the community will also contribute to their experience at the medical school.”

BullStreet is also just minutes away from Prisma Health’s Richland campus, which has a teaching relationship with USC.

Cox said plans for the USC presence at BullStreet have been underway since the District’s beginnings.

“This is the result of a long-standing relationship and coordination effort between our office and USC,” Cos said. “It’s the state’s flagship university school of medicine, and they’ve been in need of a new campus for a long time and we’ve been talking about it for a long time. The first donation for the project was made in 2016. They have a phenomenal development team, and they’ve really been studying how they can best utilize the space that they have to house both research and education components. They have done a lot of study and a lot of great work to create a real jewel of a medical school.”

Developers of the BullStreet District say the new USC School of Medicine site will add an important element to the rapidly growing urban community. (Rendering/BOUDREAUX)
Developers of the BullStreet District say the new USC School of Medicine site will add an important element to the rapidly growing urban community. (Rendering/BOUDREAUX)

The university is partnering with Columbia-based Gilbane Building Co., which will lead the planning, design, development and construction. Other key partners include The SLAM Collaborative out of Atlanta and Connecticut as lead design architect, Columbia-based architectural firm BOUDREAUX. Honeywell out of Wabash, Indiana, as operations manager, and Columbia’s Brownstone Design and Construction, a minority-owned business. Restoration 52, a development consultant that is also a minority- and woman-owned business out of Greenville, is also contributing to the project.

Plans for the new medical school couldn’t come at a better time, because South Carolina, like many states, is facing a severe shortage of physicians in the future. According to a study released in January by the Cicero Institute, South Carolina is projected to be short 3,230 doctors by 2030, including a shortage of 850 providers in primary care alone.

Related: Prisma Health breaks ground on $128M Columbia medical park

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The study showed South Carolina ranks in the bottom half of states in the availability of primary care doctors and general surgeons, and for physician supply overall: 36th in total supply of physicians, 38th in active primary physicians and 38th in general surgeons.

Currently 41 of the state’s 46 counties are considered health professional shortage areas, meaning they have an average of 3,500 or more patients for one provider. The shortages have an especially hard toll on low income residents and those who live in rural areas.

About the BullStreet District: Since groundbreaking on the district was held in January 2015, BullStreet has become known as one of the largest urban redevelopment projects on the East Coast, located on the historic 181-acre former campus of the South Carolina State Hospital.

Besides Scout, businesses who call it home include REI Co-Op, Capgemini and Founders Federal Credit Union.

Living opportunities include Merrill Gardens, an active senior community; TownPark at BullStreet, a complex of 28 townhomes; and luxury apartments at The Babcock, located inside one of the historic site’s most iconic buildings, and The Bennet at BullStreet, which offers 269 Class-A apartments.

Work is also underway on the future site of Midtown at BullStreet, which will offer 90 attainable rental apartments. That project is being handled by Connelly Development LLC of Lexington, which specializes in attainable housing in both North and South Carolina.

Scout Motors, currently building a $4 billion plant to build electric trucks in Blythewood, selected BullStreet’s First Base building both for its regional Columbia offices, which opened in November, and a Connections Center, which opened in April to give area residents a closer look at what the company is doing.

The First Base Building is also home to the offices of the Central Carolina Community Foundation, one of the area’s largest nonprofits. The district also includes the innovative WestLawn Building, which was unveiled in 2022 and houses retail and Class-A office space in a structure built from sustainable, cross-laminated timber.

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