The Innovista Master Plan is a visionary framework for the urban redevelopment of a 500-acre brownfield site in downtown Columbia—the state capital of South Carolina and home to the University of South Carolina. The plan creates a new mixed-use, live/work district to support the renaissance of downtown Columbia. The design concept establishes a new urban neighborhood integrated into the fabric of the downtown of the city and the university campus. University of South Carolina researchers and their private partners will live and work as the university emerges as a nationally-recognized comprehensive research institution. Through the planning and design process for Innovista, the Columbia community has come together to form unique and mutually beneficial partnerships among city, state, university, commercial, and residential interests.
The Innovista Master Plan provides a long-range vision and redevelopment strategy for the area between the university and the nearby Congaree River. Historically an industrial mill site related to waterborne transportation and power generation, the site became underutilized, made up of large commuter parking lots, light industrial uses, and scattered suburban office buildings. The goal of the plan is to transform this area into a vibrant urban district that combines university research facilities, low- and mid-rise residences, and parkland along the river. An innovation district will be located near the university, providing a location for the partnership of institutional and state research interests where university research activities in intellectual property and technology will be transferred into economic development. A mix of residential and retail uses will be clustered closer to the river. The urban design concept for Innovista extends and completes the street grid of the historic planned city of Columbia, linking the university's iconic Horseshoe quadrangle to a new world-class waterfront park on the Congaree River. The plan will also enable the City of Columbia to complete its Three Rivers Greenway park system along this stretch of the river.
The plan received the unanimous approval of the Columbia City Council, Planning Board, and Design Development Review Commission in the fall of 2007, and a new mixed-use zoning was approved for the whole district in the fall of 2008. In the spring of 2009, the City adopted design guidelines for an overlay district encompassing the Innovista area in order to achieve the urban design quality and principles found in the plan. New development includes an arena, convention center, hotel, and two new laboratory buildings for university research and associated parking garages. In 2011, the university began construction of the Moore School of Business in Innovista.