Opus development to begin apartment construction

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COLUMBIA - After many months of delay, the Opus development company received permits Wednesday to start work. 

Opus received a demolition permit, a land disturbance permit, and a full building permit to construct the six-story apartment structure. The permits allow removal of three existing buildings where the project is located.

Project Manager Shane Creech said the building plans are still the same they were months earlier.

"We've been in a spot for awhile where plans have been approved. What they needed more than anything else was to get the utilities shut off at those three buildings that they are going to demolish," Creech said.

All the businesses are now vacant, the most recent left about a month ago. Barnhouse Crazy Music Store relocated back in January.

Bill Barnhouse, the store's owner, said they left because they knew construction was likely and wanted to leave. The store's lease was up in December, and it was not allowed to renew the lease. Barnhouse said if he could have, he probably would have renewed the lease to stay downtown.

"As our lease time came up, generally we were able to sign our lease way in advance then our actually date, and we were being kind of delayed on that and then finally it was like a twisted arm to find out really what was going on," Barnhouse said.

Creech said the Locust Apartments will have 259 bedrooms and 62 parking spots.

During construction, public streets will remain open. The City Council approved a temporary closure of the sidewalks and parking lanes next to the project on Locust, Seventh, and Eighth Street. 

The project manager said the project is expected to take a year to complete.