Columbia City Growth
Jackie Kianmehr moved to the Vanderveen neighborhood nearly four years ago. After looking at homes all over the city, she picked the Vanderveen area because the growth of northwest Columbia excited her.
A few years later Kianmehr says, "When I drive on the other side of town, I am just amazed at the resources that are there, and we're wondering what's happening to the businesses and why they aren't investing on the north side of town."
"We have to drive halfway across town to do anything," said resident Kristen Lasiter. "Grocery shopping, I have to go all the way to Gerbes, there is nothing right here. Restaurants, there's just McDonald's and Taco Bell's about our only choice."
"It would be nice to have some more grocery stores and shops," said Gina White, also a resident of Vanderveen.
There have been a few developments in northwest Columbia in recent years, such as more banks and fast-food restaurants. Keinmehr says she's looking for businesses that bring family and neighborhoods closer, not stop and go places.
"Growing up, I shopped at one grocery store with my mother," Kianmehr said. "It was a community. That's what we need here."
The rumor mill may be to blame for keeping some businesses out of the area. Those rumors range from hearing that local income isn't high enough to poor accessibility on Rangeline, a narrow road. Rumors aside, the real answer could be Wal-Mart and congested roadways.
"Wal-Mart was actively looking for a site up there for a while," Columbia City manager Bill Watkins said. "And I think that may have said, you know, as a food store, we don't want to compete with Wal-Mart or as a drug store, we don't want to compete with Wal-Mart."
The city plans to widen Rangeline and Highway 763 next year. Developer Tom Bass is already preparing his land for interested businesses.
"With the 763 widening, it's going to be widened this fall to four lanes, I think there's going to be a lot of activity up there," Bass said. "And by putting that culvert in and grading off my site, I think I'll be ready for any prospects that come along."
As for Kianmehr, she's still waiting for the perfect neighborhood.
"A grocery store with resources in every area, you know, a wide variety of produce and food and more medical facilities on this side of town as well as theaters and different recreational things for us to do," she said.
And most importantly, she's looking forward to being closer to home. The owner of Moser's grocery stores wanted to build a new store in north Columbia last year but he retracted that offer after disputes with the city.