Downtown Columbia Property Values Up, Vacancy Rates Down

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Vision Commission met Monday evening to discuss its five-year plan for downtown, and approve its report on downtown Columbia.

The commission set goals in January 2009 for what it wanted to see in the community by 2014. 

The report approved at Monday's meeting details downtown development that occurred from March 2013 to April 2014.

The report said the total property value in downtown Columbia in 2013 was nearly $35 million, which is the highest total in the past seven years.  The report showed vacancy rates are also the lowest they have been in 10 years. The vacancy rate in downtown decreased to less than 5 percent. In 2003, the vacancy rate was more than 25 percent. 

The commission identified several positives trends downtown, but also said it found several points of concern.

One concern is the type of households that exist downtown. As of 2013, 86 percent of downtown housing was either a college dorm or "group quarters." Commission Chair Maurice Harris said this takes away from much of the homeowner variety downtown.

Harris said the commission noticed most of the housing issues after it set its goals in 2009. He said the commission could not address the problems as they occurred, because it was already addressing other issues.

He also said the commission will take a closer look at any new issues when it sets its next series of goals next summer.