City to add artistic flair to downtown Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Three downtown neighborhoods will receive the first installments of the Downtown Community Improvement District's (CID) Gateways Project. Light hubs will be installed in the Sharp End, the North Village Arts District and Flat Branch.

CID Executive Director Katie Essing said the Gateways Project will add iconic artistic elements to the downtown area and will welcome visitors as they enter the District.

"There's several different components including a plaza, entry gateways and light hubs. What's happening now is we are installing the first three of these light hubs this fall," Essing said.

The entire project is estimated to cost $4 million, and the city hopes to get 75 percent of it though grants and transportation funding. Essing said the city is trying to raise half a million dollars from the community to match the half a million the CID pledged to the project in order to cover the remaining 25 percent.

Despite costs reaching $45,000 more than expected, the district's board of directors approved the installment of the three light hubs on Tuesday.

"The estimates did come in a little bit higher than we originally were looking at. I think that's a few different factors, including that downtown is growing and is very bust right now which can increase the prices," Essing said.

The CID hired two artists to create the light hubs. Adam Mcmillen is a local artist and made the light hub for the North Village Arts District. Cecilia Lueza, an artist from Florida, crafted the two other light hubs for the Sharp End and Flat Branch.

Grove Construction will build the different elements of the Gateways Project. Tony Grove is the owner of the company and also a CID board member. Grove followed board policy and sent Essing a conflict of interest letter. He abstained from the voting process when the board picked Grove Construction. KOMU reached out to the company for a comment but was unable to get an answer.

Essing said the three light hubs should be completed by November of this year.