Harg Development Project
There was concern the city might not have the infrastructure and resources to support landowner Billy Sapp's plan to build an upscale neighborhood and golf course. Now that the golf course will open in a couple of weeks, I went to see if any of the original issues have reappeared.
The old Hawthorne Golf Course is getting ready to open and the neighborhood is not far behind.
"Unlike the rest of the real estate market, we're not seeing any kind of a slow-down out here. We've sold--we're way ahead of our projected time-frame for selling lots. We've sold several hundred already," said Don Ginsburg, RE/MAX Boone Realty.
The neighborhood will include 400 new single-family homes as well as 500 condominiums and town homes. The subdivision will also boost commerce in the region.
"There's also a commercial phase--there's several of those that have been already sold and plans for sometime probably in the next year or two to actually do some commercial development out here," said Ginsburg.
Developers say the golf course will be one of the finest in mid-Missouri, attracting residents and tourists alike, but despite all of the good things the project will do for the community, there are still some issues that haven't been resolved. The subdivision sits on Route WW, a narrow, two-lane road.Petitioners and residents of nearby Harg worried the proposed project would increase traffic and lead to accidents on the road, but developers compromised by promising to add shoulders and extra turn lanes.
"We're not asking them to build the road entirely on his own, but I had the impression that he was going to be doing that fairly early in the process but I haven't seen that yet," said Ben Londeree, Boone County Smart Growth Coalition.
The road isn't the only thing the development will push to its limits. Local schools will also have to adapt to meet the needs of these new residents. Assistant superintendent Dr. Lynn Barnett says the district will adapt to the growth, but some parents are still concerned. Kimberly Clapp has a son in kindergarten at nearby Cedar Creek Elementary School. She's happy with the way things are now, but she worries about the future.
"I like the school, but I like it because it's small. And so, you know, with a lot of new kids coming in they're going to have to do something about it," said Clapp.
The elementary school already has several mobile classrooms, and the new subdivision hasn't even opened yet. As Columbia expands, growth is always an issue. Londeree hopes the city will plan accordingly in the future.
"I'm not adverse to growth as long as it's well-planned," said Londeree.
The city's largest development will test how it planned for this project. And for now, the jury is still out on the future of east Columbia. Many of the residents I spoke with were happy with the way the development has been handled, and appreciated the developers' efforts to work with the community.The City of Columbia was unable to comment.