Press and Media

Hughes Development Corporation Unveils New Approach for Retail Development at the BullStreet Neighborhood in Columbia, S.C.

Hughes Development Corporation, the master developer of the 181-acre BullStreet Neighborhood, has updated its development strategy for the 30-acre parcel known as the Commons at BullStreet.

Construction on the Commons at BullStreet, which is planned to feature shopping, dining, entertainment and more along the Bull Street side of the former S.C. State Hospital campus, had been scheduled to wait until a critical mass of retailers had been secured. The previous agreement with the development’s retail partner, Hughes Commercial Properties, had called for 400,000 sq. ft. of retail space to be developed all at one time. Changes in the retail industry nationally have dictated that this strategy be revised to develop that portion of the project in stages.

“We are confident that taking smaller bites will allow us to adapt to the market conditions being felt across the country, while still attracting the kinds of retailers and restaurants that will add to the BullStreet experience,” says Robert Hughes, president of Hughes Development Corporation. “Having already taken a longer-term approach to development at BullStreet allows us the flexibility to be sure we get this right, and this is just another example of that.”

Retail market disruption is being felt in communities and developments across the country as retailers are closing their stores at a record pace and delaying opening new ones.

Recent National Retail Reports:

  • Credit Suisse predicts twenty to twenty five percent of all malls in America will close in the next five years.
  • Retail Metrics reported that, in the first quarter, comparable retail sales growth was the worst since the Great Recession in 2008.
  • Bloomberg estimates that 8,640 stores are set to close by the end of 2017, which would be higher than the 2008 peak of about 6,200.

In response to these industry changes, Hughes Development Corporation has brought all retail development in-house and will expand the methodology being used across the campus to include the Commons at BullStreet parcel, allowing the site to grow organically.

By building out retail in smaller sections, tenants who are ready to go can get started immediately. “If you are ready to grow in any location at BullStreet, and your concept fits with our vision for a robust extension of the downtown core, we are ready to build for you,” notes Robert Hughes.

As of July 31, 2017, Hughes Development Corporation and Hughes Commercial Properties have jointly decided that this is the best approach given market conditions and the contract for the Commons site has not been renewed. While the two corporations share a familial connection, they are wholly separate entities with different ownerships. Hughes Commercial Properties will continue to be involved in the retail development as the new approach takes shape.

“We and our partners are committed to helping make BullStreet successful,” says Jackson Hughes, president of Hughes Commercial Properties. “This adaptive strategy, given the national retail market, makes sense and will succeed.”

“Development of the overall BullStreet neighborhood will continue unimpeded,” Robert Hughes says. “At 181 acres overall, BullStreet is not solely a retail-focused development. It is an extension of the urban core with retail as one component. A twenty-year project needs to weather market changes like the national shift in retail development overall. Our plan was designed to respond to market changes and we have no concern about meeting our obligations or fulfilling the overall vision of the development. We are not using the suburban shopping center model here; we are creating an extension of downtown Columbia that people can enjoy for decades to come.”

Learn more about Columbia’s newest downtown neighborhood at


About the BullStreet Neighborhood

The BullStreet Neighborhood is a 20-year, 181-acre project to transform the historic S.C. State Hospital site into a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood district in downtown Columbia, S.C. The state’s first urban gigabit community, BullStreet is home to Spirit Communications Park, where the Columbia Fireflies Minor League Baseball team has hosted more than 400,000 guests to date, as well as the First Base Building (the largest private office building constructed in Columbia, S.C. since 2009), home to Ogletree Deakins law firm, TCube Solutions software company and Founders Federal Credit Union. Bone-In Barbeque restaurant opens in the historic Ensor Building in Fall 2017, the 196-unit Merrill Gardens senior living community is under construction, and 28 residential townhomes are under construction at TownPark at BullStreet, adjacent to the renovated historic Parker Annex office building. The award-winning historic Bakery at BullStreet building is home to the SOCO cowork and event space, the Central Energy Facility is the future home of Downtown Church, and plans are underway for a new USC Health Sciences campus. Smith Branch Creek will be daylighted and run through a 20-acre public park, mitigating flooding downstream. BullStreet contains 125,000+ square feet of commercial/office and retail space and is zoned for up to 3.3 million square feet of commercial use and 3,553 residential units. Follow @BullStreetSC on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and learn more at



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Bob McAlister,, 803-254-1154