Columbia makes way for 10-story student housing complex

Residents were evicted from James Condominiums, and Quinton’s Bar & Deli and Britches Clothing are closing for the apartments.
A sign posted outside of Quinton's Bar tells citizens that an application to demolish has been submitted to the City of Columbia.

Senior Caroline O’Reilly was working 27 hours per week, going to school full time, looking for post-college employment and just starting her capstone when she learned she was going to be evicted from James Condominiums.

O’Reilly said she thought it was a joke when one of her roommates sent a photo of the eviction notice in their apartment’s GroupMe. Once she realized the notice was real, she cried and called her mom.

She and her roommates originally thought they were the only ones getting evicted, but after hearing neighbors yelling through the thin walls, she said they realized it was the entire building.

Her apartment complex was bought by Fields Holdings LLC, a California-based real estate development company, for an in-the-works 10-story housing complex. Rise Apartments will be located in place of Quinton’s Bar & Deli and Britches Clothing.

A clause in their apartment contract, stating that the leasor could terminate the lease at any time with a month’s written notice, allowed the eviction to happen legally.

“When you hear that, though, I figured it was for something like someone selling drugs out of their apartment, but if you actually think of it from legal terms, it could be literally anything,” O’Reilly said. “Even if I had read it, I wouldn’t have thought about it.”

The letter gave residents about a month’s notice to find a new place to live. When interviewed in early February, O’Reilly was frantically shoving piles of clothes into suitcases before her mom drove from Chicago to help her move that weekend.

As a full-time regional manager of sales for a telecommunications company and parent of three, O’Reilly’s mom was less than thrilled to drive to Columbia after returning from a business trip two days earlier, O’Reilly said.

“It’s so awful it’s funny,” O’Reilly said. “We’re just making jokes about it, like ‘haha, we’re homeless.’”

O’Reilly said she doesn’t think they should be building more student housing complexes when existing apartments aren’t being completely filled. This oversupply of Columbia student housing could lead to a trend of decreasing rent, according to previous Maneater reporting.

Columbia resident Erica Ramirez was walking around downtown last Friday. She said she comes downtown to enjoy the quaint buzz of Columbia life with her dog, and resented the move to replace two lively businesses with more student housing.

“Tearing down those buildings is going to be detrimental,” Ramirez said. “Things like this are eventually going to kill the downtown culture in Columbia.”

Quinton’s and Britches’ owner Mike McClung said the real estate will change hands sometime in April. He said he has good feelings about the complex and thinks that the development is inevitable.

McClung said students add vitality to downtown Columbia and that Rise Apartments will attract a young and professional demographic. Still, he’s sad to see Quinton’s and the memories the grill carries jump ship.

Junior Josh Hunt was sitting at Quinton’s on Friday. said he’s sad to see Quinton’s move, but he feels that Rise Apartments will more efficiently use the space.

“I don’t think the rooftop of Quinton’s bar is accessible for a large portion of the fall and spring semester,” Hunt said. “It’s probably a lot less profitable than other potential uses of the space. Maybe an apartment complex is a better option.”

In a statement online, Quinton’s announced that it would close this spring and urged every diehard fan to return for one last hoopla in the restaurant’s original form.

“It is with a heavy heart and a heavy glass of 18-year-old bourbon that we at Quinton’s Bar & Deli are leaving our current location,” the statement read. “Since the day the place first opened in 1995 Quinton’s has been many things to many people in this community. The irony that we are leaving our home right as it reaches legal drinking age is not lost on us.”

McClung said he doesn’t think Quinton’s is “gone forever.” They’ve discussed plans for eventually relocating, which he said they won’t immediately share. Britches also plans on relocating only a few doors down on Ninth Street, he said. He also owns Tonic Night Club and Bar, which he said is there to stay.

McClung said his favorite memories of Quinton’s were seeing people walking out with smiles.

“I’ve built lifelong friendships from this place,” McClung said. “I’d say between customers and staff, there’s been about 30 or 40 marriages from people who have met through working or eating here. There are many monumental love stats that came out of Quinton’s.”

Edited by Waverly Colville |

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