COLUMBIA - Back in the day, leaving college dorm life for an off-campus apartment in Columbia meant a slight upgrade in niceties - with the bigger prize of greater independence and more freedom from prying parents.
Now, students at the University of Missouri are flocking to high-end downtown apartment complexes that boast granite countertops, enormous flat-screen TVs and an ample taste of the good life with such amenities as rooftop swimming pools and on-site tanning salons.
The desirous downtown destinations are forcing city leaders to confront thornier questions about parking, noise and historical preservation. Downtown development is a prominent issue in the city's mayoral race. It comes soon after a St. Louis developer backed away from plans to tear down the historic Niedermeyer building and replace it with more student high-rises.