City Council votes Monday on new parking garage

Monday, April 20, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:19 a.m. CDT, Monday, April 20, 2009

COLUMBIA — The City Council will vote Monday evening at 7 p.m. on plans to build a new parking garage at Fifth and Walnut streets, and interviews with council members indicate the plans will be approved. The new parking structure would be among the tallest in Columbia, second only to The Tiger Hotel.

The parking garage would be eight or nine stories tall, with the lower level including retail space and police parking. The garage would have 661 parking spaces, including 47 or 48 spaces reserved for the police. Several council members think it would provide more parking downtown, while helping to eliminate surface parking that could be used to bring new businesses into the area.

Fourth Ward City Councilman Jerry Wade thinks the new parking garage would benefit the downtown area. Sixth Ward representative Barbara Hoppe supports the garage, but said she hopes it will be the last parking structure the city needs downtown, and that mass transit and other alternatives will pick up any remaining slack. Mayor Darwin Hindman agrees that the project is a good idea.

 "We've had consultants come in and study the situation, and they advise us that we need more parking," Hindman said.

Trying for a better use of space

Wade said the idea was to eliminate surface parking, which takes up space that could be put to better use.

"We're hoping that by building this garage, that in effect, we'll be making areas available for building," Hindman said. "This enables us to concentrate retail in the downtown area, which is good for downtown."

New Second Ward City Councilman Jason Thornhill said that although he doesn't know all the details of the project yet, he thinks it is important to use valuable downtown space wisely.

"It's good any time we can eliminate surface parking," Thornhill said.

The "awfully big, awfully tall" garage will feature retail space on its ground floor, a mixed-use pedestrian-friendly addition that Hoppe said she has long supported.

"Parking garages with nothing but parking on the bottom level can make it a disconnected space for pedestrians and people in general," Hoppe said.

Looking at other options, too

Hoppe said she hoped that future parking needs would be addressed by options like mass transit improvements, shuttles and even a free downtown trolley system like those found in Branson or Durgango, Colo., and that the city would not find it necessary to construct parking structures in the future.

"I would hope this should address our parking needs forever," Hoppe said.

Last April, the council adopted a resolution declaring the necessity of constructing the project. Plans for the proposed parking garage were presented to the council on Oct. 6, 2008, during a public hearing by Walker Parking Consultants and Peckman and Wright Architects.

"This is the first time we've tried that in Columbia," Wade said. "It's just a better use of space than parking cars on it."

The public wouldn't have to worry about paying more taxes to fund the new project because the bonds for the garage would be paid through parking utility.

Still, the parking garage has its critics. Some downtown business owners have expressed concerns about the building's seismic durability and whether the parking structure would cause more congested traffic downtown. Others think the building is much too tall, but Wade disagrees.

"All the other parking garages are at capacity," Wade said. "This parking garage will fill up very quickly."

Though the proposed ordinance is listed on the council's agenda as "old business," members of the community are invited to speak on the matter before it is put to a vote.

Andrew Van Dam contributed to this report.

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Charles Dudley Jr April 20, 2009 | 1:57 a.m.

The question is what if this new elephant is not filled up daily and it can hardly pay for itself with the parking fees collected.

Who gets stuck with the bill then?

(Report Comment)
Panama Red April 20, 2009 | 7:08 a.m.

What an ugly idea this is. Even more reason to drive your gas burner to town ... ride a bus already ...

(Report Comment)
Michael Scott April 20, 2009 | 8:08 a.m.

This is ridiculous. There is no reason the city should become a landlord for retail space.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 20, 2009 | 9:41 a.m.

Interesting that Hoppe thinks this garage will take care of all future parking while Wade thinks it will fill up immediately, giving me the impression another garage will be needed in the near future if he is correct.

(Report Comment)
Joe City April 20, 2009 | 10:32 a.m.

Michael Scott April 20, 2009 | 8:08 a.m.
This is ridiculous. There is no reason the city should become a landlord for retail space.

Got that right Mike, this is no different than the city being involved in the farmer's pavillion.
The city needs to stay OUT of the real estate game.

If they need parking that bad, then the whole damn garage needs to be parking spaces.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 20, 2009 | 10:33 a.m.

Oh no,government as landlords, TYRANNY!!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 20, 2009 | 10:39 a.m.

>>> giving me the impression another garage will be needed in the near future if he is correct. <<<

Which downtown business' will be the next victims in the Eminent Domain Game is another question to ask in all of this.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 20, 2009 | 10:44 a.m.

Tim, why should government be competing with private landlords for downtown retail? What if the city can't rent that space out? Are they already assuming $X/year for their budget?

(Report Comment)
Bryan Ross April 20, 2009 | 11:56 a.m.

"I would hope this should address our parking needs forever," Hoppe said.

I don't have a link handy, but the city a year or two ago also had under consideration a garage on Broadway next to the Regency Hotel. I don't believe that it was an either/or situation. Does anyone have more recent information on that project?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 20, 2009 | 12:58 p.m.

Boohoo, the city will be competing against the Kronkes. Might as well make use of the space and the city actually making some money in the process. Kronkes still have their wal-mart stock and sports teams, they won't starve.

(Report Comment)
Blake Segafredo April 20, 2009 | 12:59 p.m.

Back in October I wrote to the mayor and city council. It went mostly on deaf ears. The City Council is convinced that this is a good idea and that it's what they should do, once again they are not listening to the concerns of the citizens. I have copied the letter in hopes that others will help to pressure the city to listen to the people:

Mr. Mayor and Members of the City Council,
It is troubling to me that current design is still being considered for the parking garage at 5th and Walnut. I have seen in the paper (I don't recall specifically when) that it has been said by city officials that the city should not be involved in rental properties, but yet the project moves on. It was originally stated that the garage would be 3-4 levels, then that number because 6-8, and currently that number stands at 9-10, the project keeps getting taller and taller. Seeing the latest rendering I am ashamed that one of the tallest buildings in town will be a parking garage, you should be too. Another problem I have with the building is that by having businesses and parking, according to the International Building Code, the building would be required to have a fire protection system (Sprinkler system) throughout the entire building. This would be a tremendous cost to the project. I think it would be in the best interests of the city to eliminate the retail portion of the parking garage; this would also eliminate the required fire protection system. In addition I feel that the height of the building should be reduced to something that is at a more human scale and not double the height of the other parking garages, as well as double the height of most of the buildings in downtown Columbia . I think you are doing a grave injustice by not looking at the overall size of the building as well as the management issues that go along with having rental properties, and it would be in the best interests of the City of Columbia to have a parking garage that is designed on a scale that is in line with the character of the City of Columbia. Thank you for your time and consideration.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 20, 2009 | 1:10 p.m.

Tim, I'm not talking about Stan Kroenke, I am referring to the more local landlords who have smaller leaseholds downtown (John Ott is one name that springs to mindm I'm sure there are others that I am blanking on at the moment). Why should the city take away business from him or other local landlords?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 20, 2009 | 3:17 p.m.

This project represents everything that's wrong with Bill Watkins and our illustrious mayor. Is there really such a lull in the cash flow to "Bob the Builder" that this monumental fiasco needs to be built? If the spot chosen were so hot, there'd be private mini-mall enterprises biting at the bit for this supposed downtown "cash cow." If the police department needs more space, there's plenty of that over by Parkade Plaza. The city could also use "eminent domain" and secure the old Osco Building and its property. There's plenty of unused parking over there. The desire for this building is indicative of the erecting problem we've all seen before. We need to stop this from going up.

(Report Comment)

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