Downtown Businesses Worry About New Development

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COLUMBIA - City Planner Patrick Zenner said downtown Columbia will continue to see new development projects in the coming years. Some existing businesses downtown are worried about the ramifications of more development.

One stylist at The Clip Joint, Amanda Griffith, said traffic and a lack of parking make it difficult for her customers to get to the salon on 10th and Cherry Street.

"It makes them not want to come downtown. It becomes a hassle for them to park and most of them are very loyal so it becomes very frustrating," Griffith said.

The Clip Joint has several customers who drive more than an hour to get to the salon. One client said she drives two hours to get there, and dealing with traffic in downtown Columbia is frustrating.

One resident said finding parking can be a challenge when downtown is crowded.

"The traffic and lack of parking certainly affects my willingness to come downtown. You might have to park at a friend's house or far away from where you're going. It becomes a hassle," Miriam Suter said.

Another resident said he purposely goes downtown when he knows it won't be very busy.

"The harder it is to get downtown, the less I go downtown, the less money I spend downtown," Ben Temple said.

Griffith said she thinks new development could be a good thing or a bad thing.

"I can appreciate the development that's going on and that Columbia is expanding. I've grown up in Columbia. I would hope that they would keep the little businesses in mind because it's becoming a little bit more difficult. I feel like, sometimes for the smaller businesses to thrive because they're getting pushed into the shadows of all these bigger companies," Griffith said.

Zenner said the increase of residential development downtown is because of a population increase in Columbia and a lack of housing.

"The market numbers we keep getting told by the college housing developers are that we're not meeting an entire demand even with what we're building on an annual basis," Zenner said.

Zenner claims the University of Missouri is more worried about academics for its students rather than how to house them. He said MU relies on outside developers to provide the new housing for its students rather than focusing on building more itself.

Downtown Leadership Council Chair Brent Gardner said his committee anticipates Columbia will double in size in the next 35 years, just as it has in the past 35 years.

Zenner said most new residential developments will be required to provide parking for residents to help avoid traffic issues and a lack of parking downtown.

"Future residential development needs to accommodate a component of their parking demand. Now does that mean that we aren't at some point in the future going to come to a parking impasse - too many residents and too few parking spaces that need to be allocated toward retail, offices and regular functioning offices of what makes downtown, downtown? It's possible, highly unlikely we believe," Zenner said.

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