P&Z recommends rezoning approval for redevelopment of downtown property

Thursday, April 10, 2008 | 11:01 p.m. CDT; updated 5:20 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — The effort to redevelop downtown by building up instead of out received support from the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night.

The commission unanimously recommended approval for the rezoning of two residential lots on Locust Street between Hitt and Waugh streets for commercial use. The property owner, Jon Livingston, said he wants to redevelop the property for a mix of businesses and apartment units.

Livingston’s proposal to turn residential lots into mixed-use developments falls in line with the Sasaki plan, a model for redeveloping downtown.

Currently, the properties at 1110 and 1112 Locust St. each contain a building with four rental units, for eight units total. The property is surrounded by other residences, a restaurant and a church office.

Another resident, Chris Harrison, said he has been living in his apartment on Livingston’s property for more than 20 years. He is opposed to the rezoning because he likes the location and says the rent is affordable.

“That would force me to have to move,” he said. “How do you move from a place you’ve been that many years?”

Livingston said he wants to keep housing at the property by building apartments above the businesses.

“We’re not going to eliminate residential,” he said. “We’re hopefully going to improve it.”

Some examples of businesses that would be allowed for Livingston’s 0.3 acres are restaurants, exercise facilities and retail stores. The approved maximum area for each is 40,000 square feet.

Livingston has been working on developing the area for new businesses for more than a year. He won approval for rezoning of 1109 Locust St. last fall in line with the Sasaki plan.

Sasaki Associates Inc., a Boston-based consulting firm, presented a plan for redeveloping the downtown corridor in December 2006. Some highlights of the plan are a hotel and conference center, a museum, new parking garages, a mixed-use “garden district” in the Flat Branch area and a park-like redevelopment of Elm Street, which would be extended to connect with College Avenue, according to the Missourian archives.

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