Mixed Reviews of Large Parking Garage

8 years 1 month 2 weeks ago Monday, August 30 2010 Aug 30, 2010 Monday, August 30, 2010 7:35:27 PM CDT August 30, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - Downtown Columbia's skyline is changing as construction workers get closer to completing a new parking garage at 5th and Walnut. The garage will add about 650 parking spaces downtown and will be split between city employees, spots for rent and metered parking. Downtown business owners say they understand the ends justify the means, but for now, the means are an eyesore.

Mary Dodds' restaurant and bar, Tropical Liqueurs, backs up to the structure. She said the garage will definitely affect downtown Columbia's skyline.

"Hopefully if they finish it off to look good, it will not be a detraction," Dodds said. "But, I think it will still dominate downtown."

Despite its current appearance, Dodds said the parking garage will benefit the area.  She said her establishment has a small lot next door, but some of the two-dozen spots are already rented full-time to residents and employees in the area. That only leaves a handful of the remaining spots for customers. She said the new garage will make it easier to park closer to her business.

"We don't have the spaces downtown that we need, so it will be nice when they get it finished," Dodds said.

But for now, she said the construction process is just a nuisance.

"Mostly, I would just like them to be done with the construction," Dodds said. "That is the biggest imposition."

John Glascock is the Columbia Public Works director. He agrees that any construction can be annoying, but said the finished product will be worth the wait. He explained the parking garage will probably match the architecture style of the new City Hall and will even include room on the ground floor for office space and retail. He said he hopes residents re-valuate its usefulness once the construction is complete.

"We have 81 people that have already requested parking in that structure and it's not even built yet," Glascock said. "So, the need is there, it's just a matter of getting it built and people seeing the need."

Glascock said rainy weather has slowed construction, but workers should finish the project late this year or early 2011. The project will cost just under $15 million.


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