COLUMBIA — Columbia's downtown skyline is dominated by the historic Tiger Hotel and the Boone County Courthouse. But soon, a 10-story parking garage will rival those structures.
The Columbia City Council approved design plans for the $15 million garage at its Monday meeting. Within the next few weeks, it will call for bids on the project. Columbia transportation manager Ken Koopmans said he hopes dirt work will begin this summer on the garage site, which is across Walnut Street from the Columbia post office. The site is now a city-owned parking lot.
The parking garage is set to be located on Walnut Street between Fifth and Sixth streets and will contain 660 parking spots. The project also involves adding turn lanes on Fifth and Walnut, Sixth and Walnut, and Sixth and Ash streets. Some on-street parking will be removed.
Koopmans said it will cost the city about $66,500 per year to operate the garage, a cost he said is comparable to other garages.
The cost "is primarily electric,” he said.
The height of the garage prompted some complaints during public hearings on the project. Taking property elevations into account, the garage will be 8 feet shorter than The Tiger Hotel and 2 feet shorter than the Boone County Courthouse, according to a report to the council from Public Works director John Glascock.
The first floor of the parking garage will include retail space, Koopmans said, though it would be at least a year before any thought is put into who will occupy the space. The city is working on a request for proposals from developers interested in managing the lease of the retail space.
After the garage is about 80 percent complete, the property manager will begin leasing out commercial space.
Glascock said in his report that the city can expect the space to attract “restaurants, nightclubs, and mixed specialty retail” that would “create a lively retail and commercial development and bring activity to downtown Columbia.” The city will prohibit uses such as adult entertainment venues, adult bookstores, massage parlors, bars and tattoo parlors.