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      Local restaurants hopeful new student housing center boosts business

      Columbia, S.C. (WACH) - The next big step in revitalizing Columbia's downtown will play out over the next couple of weeks, and it's called the Hub.

      Located on Main Street in the old Palmetto Center, the Hub is 21-stories of modern living after a roughly $40 million renovation.

      Some residents have already moved in, taking advantage of the early move-in days at the beginning of August.

      The remainder of the eight hundred fifty college students and young professionals will move in between August 14-16.

      The Hub's staff isn't the only group looking forward to that big crowd, so are Columbia businesses.

      "We're just excited to have them down here and mix in with the business crowd," said Chad Elsey who owns Cantina 76 on Main Street. "Just looking to Main Street to become more and more popular.â??

      Elsey opened his second Cantina 76 on Main Street almost a year ago. With hundreds of young people about to move into the Hub student housing center, he's hoping business is about to boom.

      "One of the reasons we decided to come here was because the Hub was opening and it's actually been way busier than we anticipated," added Elsey.

      Matt Kennell, President and CEO of the City Center Partnership, says an increase in business will be a feeling felt all across the capital city.

      "A week from now there will be four times as many residents downtown," said Kennell. "We're going to feel that all over the city. We're going to feel it in our movie theaters, our restaurants and our shops and we're just really looking forward to it."

      The Hub is located between the Sheraton and the Marriott hotels, and Kennell says that prime location near Columbia's Vista and so many other downtown locations, could mean job creation and encourage students to make Columbia their home after graduation.

      "We are Columbia. We love the Gamecocks, we love USC, we love college students and I think everyone is excited about it," said Kennell.

      For now, however, a business owner like Chad Elsey says he is taking in business one step at a time.

      "It's another reason for people to come to the area in general. More activity tends to breed more activity, and the more activity you have is better for the business on Main Street," said Elsey.

      For more information about amenities offered at the Hub, click here.