COLUMBIA - As construction on the Gans Road interchange nears completion, developers are already formulating plans for a new development around the new Discovery Parkway and its connection to U.S. 63.
Construction began in November on the Gans Road interchange, which will connect Gans Road, U.S. 63, Ponderosa Street and Lenoir Street. The interchange will provide more access to MU's Discovery Ridge Research Park, which many think will be an economic boon to Columbia.
The Missouri Department of Transportation hired Emery Sapp & Sons to build the interchange, and its contract stipulates a Dec. 1 completion date, company spokesman Lowell Patterson said.
"We're hopeful we can beat that," Patterson said. "But it's going to be weather dependent."
Patterson added that construction would be further along if there had been less rain this spring. But other than weather delays, construction has gone smoothly, he said.
Roger Schwartze, central district engineer for the highway department, said he is optimistic the interchange can be done by October if weather cooperates.
"They have made great progress given all the wet weather we've had this year," Schwartze said.
The transportation department is contributing about $5.4 million to the interchange, he said. The highway work, combined with accompanying construction on city streets, will cost about $10.7 million. The city and the Bristol Lake Transportation Development District will evenly split the rest of the cost, Public Works Department spokeswoman Jill Stedem said. The Bristol Lake TDD money will come from sales tax proceeds.
Meanwhile, the Columbia Planning and Development Department has already conducted a concept review of a 220-acre project proposed by Forum Development Group that would be built around the overpass site on the west side of U.S. 63. City planner Steve MacIntyre said he saw no major problems with the plans.
Jay Lindner, executive vice president of Forum Development Group, said a formal development proposal will be submitted in the next couple of weeks, but said it is still too early to know what businesses might use the space.
"At this point in time, as for specific uses, we're still trying to nail those down," Lindner said. "We definitely think our development will play off what they have" at Discovery Ridge.
Lindner said that from what he has seen of research parks around the country, extra office space may be needed, and he hopes Forum Development can work with MU to help meet those needs.
Preliminary plans for the project include several large retailers, an outdoor shopping center, two office districts, apartments and condos overlooking the nearby Philips Lake and park and a large hotel and convention center, according to a Forum news release.
"With the office space in Discovery as well as Discovery Ridge right next door, the immediate highway access of the property, and our proximity to Columbia Regional Airport, we feel that our new development is an ideal location for a hotel and convention center," Lindner said in the release. "Discovery will help Columbia become the meeting destination of choice for companies with locations across the state and even across the nation."