City Council to Vote on Final Downtown Construction Plans

8 years 1 month 3 weeks ago Tuesday, September 28 2010 Sep 28, 2010 Tuesday, September 28, 2010 7:08:19 PM CDT September 28, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council will decide whether to approve plans to reconstruct several sections of the city's downtown district. The corner of Broadway St. and College Ave., as well as Broadway and Providence Rd. will be revamped. Plans also call for improvements to the North Columbia Arts District. Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine says this construction won't come cheaply, nor will it happen quickly.

"Millions of dollars, I don't think we've quantified it yet, literally millions of dollars and again it's nothing we're going to try to get done in the next three years," said St. Romaine.

In fact, he said all work will happen bit by bit for the next ten to twenty years.  But by the end of this time, St. Romaine hopes the city is much more pedestrian friendly.

St. Romaine was adamant that Columbia needed these changes, mainly because they help deal with a persistent problem facing the city: parking.

"The approach of the charrette was to identify priorities at least over the next ten to twenty years.  So this is a long term plan, an incremental approach," St. Romaine said.

Construction already started on a new parking structure in the city and St. Romaine says similar structures are on the way.

He did clarify that most improvements will be on road repairs.

But for stores in these affected downtown areas, the worry is not what will happen to them when work begins.  Many business owners don't even know about these plans at all.

Brennan Van Matre manages the Alpine Shop, which is located in the middle of an area officials want to reconstruct.

He hopes an effort is made to reach out to businesses like his.

"I would hope that they would keep that in mind that there are people that may be affected, that may be adversely affected in some way--so that they would keep some degree of protection," Van Matre said.

St. Romaine said the city is not responsible for notifying every individual businesses in the downtown district.  He said the city told all the building owners and then let them tell their tenants.

Regardless, Van Matre said he just wants the improvements to create more customers.

"A lot of our customer traffic is foot traffic.  That's kind of the nature of the beast down here in the downtown district," he said.


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