April 01, 2021
Robert Hughes shouldered a shovel and took a deep breath Thursday afternoon.
As Columbia city officials joined the president of Greenville-based Hughes Development Corp. to break ground on the newest addition to the BullStreet District, Hughes paused to appreciate the turning of the dirt as well as the tide of 12 months of pandemic-related uncertainty.
“It’s humbling. It’s refreshing,” Hughes said. “It’s nice to be able to step back for a second and take a win, have a little time to celebrate a milestone like this. We haven’t had a lot of these over the last 12 months, so doing this with the team we have assembled and all the people here is really special.”
Hughes Development, master developer of the 180-acre BullStreet project, is next overseeing the construction of the WestLawn building, a 79,000-square-foot, mass timber office building that will be the first of its kind in Columbia. Slated to open in April 2022, the five-story building will house Columbia law firm Robinson Gray Stepp & Laffitte, which will occupy more than 29,000 square feet on the top two floors. Hughes is also the leasing agent for the structure, which will include four floors of Class A office space with a bottom floor dedicated to retail.
Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield & Gorrie, the WestLawn building contractor, has been in on the ground floor of BullStreet development, having worked on commercial office space pioneer the First Base Building, a 108,541-square-foot building adjoining Segra Park which opened in April 2016.
“It’s a lot nicer to be out here right now,” Ben Barfield, Brasfield & Gorrie vice president, said. “When we came in and we were doing the First Base Building with Hughes Development as well, it was brand-new. There was nothing out here. It’s really good to be back right now with Hughes Development and build on what looks like a thriving area compared to where we were the first time when they were just breaking ground on it. It’s a lot of fun.”