COLUMBIA — Although a final decision hasn't been made, the City Council is one step closer to building a parking garage at Fifth and Walnut streets after its Monday night meeting. During a public hearing at the meeting, representatives from architectural firms Walker Parking Consultants and Peckham and Wright Architects presented plans for the proposed parking garage.
David Ryan of Walker Parking Consultants the garage will be an eight- or nine-story structure and the lower level will contain both retail space and police parking. The garage will have 661 spaces, including 47 to 48 spaces reserved for the police.
Kurt Albert voiced his concerns about the structure's seismic potential and durability, an issue that Ryan says will be addressed later in the building process.
Elton Fay, who owns a law office west of the garage's future site, also had various concerns. He said he attended two to three meetings about the garage prior to Monday's council meeting, and at other meetings, the garage was described as having "four levels, with a maximum of six."
"A three to four story structure would better fit in," Fay said of the structures proposed size, his reasoning being that "every other building in that area is one story."
His second concern was increased traffic in the area. He said traffic in the area is already horrible because there is no crosswalk on Fifth Street.
Fay also asked if tenants of the retail space would pay the same tax to schools that all other buildings in the area are required to pay. Fay said that if the tenant was not required to pay that tax, it would put other commercial businesses at a disadvantage.
The building will be a buff color at the top and red brick at the bottom.
Members of the council expressed interest in including cascading plants on the outside of the building. The Public Art Committee also has started to get involved in the external appearance of the building.
Other concerns included traffic generated by the number of spaces, outlets for electric cars and surveillance.
The council assured citizens that they would not have to pay more taxes to fund the garage.
The council said that downtown will benefit from the parking spaces, needed for future parking, as well as from the retail space.
The council has not yet signed off on the garage, but members say that the investment in the drawings shows that they are close. The council will discuss a final decision on the project at a future meeting.