Columbia City Council Mulls Downtown Demolition

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council voted tonight against delaying the demolition of Niedermeyer Apartments, the city's oldest standing building.

More than a dozen Columbia residents spoke to the council before the vote, many pleading the council agree to a six-month moratorium for downtown demolitions. Ultimately, the council split the vote 3-3, so the moratorium did not pass.

Real estate developer Collegiate Housing Partners of St. Louis has expressed interest in buying the property on Tenth Street to build downtown student housing on the site. The zoning designation at the Niedermeyer Building's location does not limit the height of new buildings. The new student housing complex could be as tall as 15 stories. By comparison, the tallest building in downtown Columbia currently is the Tiger Hotel, standing at 10 stories.

Outside of historical preservation, one of the main issues regarding the proposed downtown student housing building is parking for potential tenants. The garage at Tenth and Cherry streets is currently at capacity, with many spots leased to tenants at the adjacent Brookside Downtown apartments.

Many Columbia residents voiced concern over the future of downtown aesthetics with the rapid student housing development in the area.

"It's no longer going to be the historic downtown district," Columbia Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Brian Treece said. "It's going to be the historic tattoo and subway shop district. That's what we're trying to protect."

The building at 920 Cherry Street has stood since 1837.