Columbia, SC – March 24, 2021 – The Columbia Housing Authority is selling the shopping center it owns on Harden Street after struggling to attract businesses that would benefit nearby affordable housing tenants.

On Monday, the Columbia Housing Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve a $2.5 million purchase agreement for the Celia Saxon shopping center.

The Housing Authority opened the $5 million shopping center in 2008 as part of a long running plan to revive the area.

One of the original tenants was the Food Fresh market. When that store closed in 2010, the neighborhood was left without a place to buy fresh groceries. A Save-A-Lot eventually opened there in 2015, but after that store shuttered in 2019, the neighborhood became a “food desert” once again. The closest option — Food Lion at 1001 Harden St. — is a little more than a mile away.

Ivory Mathews, CEO of the Housing Authority, said she believes the buyer, Clearinghouse Community Development Financial Institution, is better equipped to bring much needed essential services to the neighborhood.

Clearinghouse, which is based in California, is a direct lender that provides “economic opportunities and improves the quality of life for lower-income individuals and communities through innovative and affordable financing,” according to its mission statement. The organization has provided financing for commercial real estate and affordable housing projects in at least 15 states including North Carolina.

“We’ve tried and failed many, many, many times,” Mathews said. “The CDFI has a proven track record and they will work closely with the community to ensure whatever is placed there meets their needs.”

According to Mathews, the shopping center has operated at a deficit since it opened and the sale will finally allow the Housing Authority to break even.

– Liebson R. (2021, March 22). Columbia Housing Authority will sell Celia Saxon shopping center for $2.5 million. The State. https://account.thestate.com/paywall/registration?resume=250041034

Learn more about buyer, CDFI, here: https://www.clearinghousecdfi.com/