Turning Backs to Fronts
Business owners say upscale alleys could boost business in downtown Columbia, but right now the alleys need to shape up.
"They're smelly, they're dirty, they're hangouts for derelicts, and I don't think that would be the case if they were prettied up," said Julie Walker, resident.
The city has joined in to improve the alleys by adding lighting and hiding electrical wires.
"They're actually putting them in the ground, so we're losing a lot of the wires and things on the buildings, which is a plus," said John Ott, property owner.
But trash is still a problem. Business owners say some restaurant employees don't properly dispose of the trash. They just throw it into the compactors, without actually turning it on. Some merchants think alley storefronts may be the answer.
"If we generate storefronts in the alleyways, I think you'll see not only the private property owners, but hopefully the city working together, to keep those areas clean," said Ott.
"I think they've got a really great opportunity here to make another little Monterey, California, where they have their shops coming off the alleyways," John Hahn, resident.
Some property owners are already working out front...
"Yesterday they took out our storefront, so we don't have a door," said Elly Swetz, downtown business owner.
Despite the annoyance, Swetz sees the big picture.
"Construction kind of stinks, and it's not the best for business right now, but overall, I think it's going to help our businesses in the long-run. They're going to be beautiful," said Swetz.
Some business owners would also like to see the alleys repaved and the graffiti removed. The Columbia Fire Department is also talking about naming five alleyways, which would make specific alleys easier to locate and allow for quicker emergency response.
TO CONTACT THE SPECIAL BUSINESS DISTRICT ABOUT UPCOMING PLANS TO IMPROVE DOWNTOWN, CALL: 573-442-6816>