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City Council approves plans for downtown parking garage

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Parking difficulties in downtown Columbia could soon be a thing of the past.

On Monday night, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to build a new parking garage at Fifth and Walnut streets. The structure would provide 660 parking spaces, including 48 underground spaces reserved for police. Council members expressed support for the project because they said it would provide much-needed downtown parking while saving surface space for future business development opportunities.

"The only way that we can begin to remove street level parking and make it available for more intensive commercial and business use is to start going up with our parking capability," said Fourth Ward City Councilman Jerry Wade. "It is part of the transformation that's going to have to take place with downtown to create the growing economic engine."

The eight- or nine-story garage will have 13,000 square feet of retail space, which the city will lease to businesses. According to John Glascock, chief engineer for the city, there is already a waiting list of prospective tenants who will have to be approved by the council. Two elevator towers will be at the northwest and southeast corners of the garage. The estimated cost of the project is $15 million, but none of that will be covered by general tax revenue.

As far as appearance of the structure, Third Ward City Councilman Karl Skala raised the idea of "something indigenous," such as cascading plants, to "soften the effect" of the enormous parking garage. The Commission for Public Art will be involved with the design process of the outside of the building, which will be red brick on bottom and beige on top.

"It is going to be a very large building," Skala said. "It's going to be an imposing structure in our downtown."

Elton Fay, who owns a law firm west of the garage's future site, said he believes the structure would be "out of place for that part of the city."

"It will be an eyesore to the downtown area," Fay said. "We would ask for them to limit the height to be consistent with other parking garages." 

Fay said he believes the structure should be "four stories tall, six at the maximum," and has concern with the building's seismic durability. He said he thinks the garage will cause more traffic problems in the already congested downtown area.

"We ask for safety in the area. We ask for crosswalks from Fifth Street to Walnut, but we still don't have them," Fay said. "That is the most dangerous intersection in the downtown area, with almost an accident a week. We're going to kill somebody here."

Wade said he believes the project is more than a parking garage; it is part of the transformation downtown needs in order to have a strong, vital economy.


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Comments

Ray Shapiro April 21, 2009 | 12:25 a.m.

("Wade said he believes the project is more than a parking garage; it is part of the transformation downtown needs in order to have a strong, vital economy.")
Wanna bet? Parkade Plaza went down the tubes. Overbuild downtown and so will "The District."

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 21, 2009 | 7:12 a.m.

Parkade floundered because Columbia Mall was built.

(Report Comment)
James Herring April 21, 2009 | 7:35 a.m.

IMO I agree that the height shouldn't be any taller than the exsisiting garages. I have always felt thet symbol of downtown was the Tiger hotel with its lighted sign, seen for miles. Whenever I saw that I always felt I was coming home. I would hate to have anything close to obstructing that view.

Columbia is growing, but I don't want high rises or skyscrappers like what is downtown KC, St. Louis or anything like that. Columbia is right in the middle of a growing spurt. We are no longer small, but we ain't big either. If we push too fast, we may turn downtown into a ghost town again. With business leaving for the fringes; smaller strip or boutique malls that are easier accesible with better parking.

Besides, how many garages are already around downtown; the idea that this is the answer is a temporary one. Soon we will have "paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

(Report Comment)
Panama Red April 21, 2009 | 8:14 a.m.

sky crappers indeed ...

(Report Comment)
John M. Nowell, III April 21, 2009 | 9:07 a.m.

said Fourth Ward City Councilman Jerry Wade. "It is part of the transformation that's going to have to take place with downtown to create the growing economic engine."

I don't think Jerry has a clue about business or economics.
If I were an out of town business thinking about locating in Columbia, and reading all the obstacles that the council has put in front existing businesses such as Quinten's bar, the State Historical building fiasco, smoking laws, Alley A behind the Puckett's building, etc. not to mention the daily crime reported in the news, Columbia would not be on my radar. One of the basic problems with downtown is the street parking is used primarily by those who work downtown and their customers have to park elsewhere.

Platatudes and marketing will not grow business activity in downtown Columbia. Basic common sense business practices will.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Dugan April 21, 2009 | 9:35 a.m.

Another stupid deceision by a VERY stupid council. And let me guess, next they will turn down a 4 lane Broadway, yet they say we have so many cars that we need a 9 story garage??????????? If you can't build the roads to handle the cars, then we certainly don't need the garage!!! WAKE UP COLUMBIA!!!!! These are your tax dollars and this is a classic fleecing of America. Dateline anyone?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 21, 2009 | 12:03 p.m.

I do hope the council turns down a four-lane Broadway as it is only needed about 30 minutes a day. I have never experienced noticable delays outside the rush quarter-hour when driving on the residential portion of Broadway.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 12:15 p.m.

I tend to like Ray Shapiro's ideas of turning Worley and Ash into one way streets one going West the other East and leave Broadway the hell alone!

(Report Comment)
Blake Segafredo April 21, 2009 | 1:15 p.m.

I don't understand the alleged issue of needing more parking. I have NEVER had an issue with finding a parking space in a city garage. Most of the time the city garages are 1/2 - 2/3 full. More then enough spare spaces. The City Council is out of touch with reality. I have one request. LISTEN TO THE CITIZENS. It shouldn't be that hard, but yet they find a way to make it hard.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 1:44 p.m.

>>> Blake Segafredo I have one request. LISTEN TO THE CITIZENS. It shouldn't be that hard, but yet they find a way to make it hard. <<<

If they did that we would have more police patrols on our streets on all shifts,our city streets would be in better shape and our EMS Services would be getting the new vehicles they need.

Instead they want to build parks,bike trails and parking garages.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 21, 2009 | 1:58 p.m.

There was an election Charles,with those very issues and Robison lost. Voters have spoken

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 2:14 p.m.

Tim Dance I was referring to other Councilmen coming up for re-election in the future.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 2:18 p.m.

Oh on an added note alot of people have expressed to me personally why aren't all of these Councilmen's elections made City wide instead only in their Wards as after all their votes count in all Wards not just their own so why doesn't all of Columbia get to vote on each of the Councilmen instead of the "Select Group of Citizens" in each Ward.

I think if this process were expanded we would get some better people running for these seats and the community would be able to express themselves through the election processes better.

Sure the Councilman must live in their Ward they are running for but in all honesty their votes on the Council itself effect us all don't they?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 21, 2009 | 2:50 p.m.

Chuck:
I have thought along those lines as well. The city council seems to rubber stamp Bill Watkin's and Mayor Darwin's proposals anyway. Maybe it's time to take a closer look at an elected paid Mayor/Financial Controller type of city government where town hall meetings and liaison committees have more impact on the Mayor's reelection.
I often wonder which city leaders have the most to gain financially and politically in a project of this magnitude?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 2:57 p.m.

ray shapiro oh but you know they have always done it this way.

So much for the progressiveness they claim they are for huh?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 21, 2009 | 2:58 p.m.

So you two want to do away with the concept of wards and have at-large councilpersons for the entire city?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 3:14 p.m.

John Schultz no I like the idea of Wards per say I just think the entire Community should be able to vote for each Wardsman is all.

After all how each Wardsman votes does effect all people in all of the Wards so why shouldn't all citizens be able to vote for any and all Councilmen?

Isn't that what Democracy in action is all about?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 21, 2009 | 3:32 p.m.

What would be the advantage of keeping the individual wards instead of doing away with them and voting for all councilpersons at large?

What next though, should we be able to vote for Cole County's state rep as well, or Illinois' US Senator? I don't live in Centralia, but maybe I wanted to vote in their recent mayoral election.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 21, 2009 | 3:40 p.m.

John:
I never said that. The current concept just doesn't seem to be working for this city anymore. I'd like to see what would happen if we went to an elected paid Mayor/Financial Controller type of government with perhaps "ward" committee representation, town hall meetings and more effective liaison committees, (which are already in place).
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 21, 2009 | 3:50 p.m.

ray shapiro said it best.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 21, 2009 | 4:04 p.m.

It's not the way the wards are set up. The problem is our individual legislators and how they approach their duties. I am very disappointed in Councilpeople Sturtz, Skala, and Hoppe for supporting this - I would hope that such "activists" would be trying to build a downtown where people can get around without having to find parking places.

Of course, though, without business, there is no revenue, and without revenue, there is no City Government. So basically whatever floats business' boat, they will get, whether it's downtown retailers or construction contractors. Whether the city really needs it or not...

DK

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 21, 2009 | 4:23 p.m.

The city council seems to rubber stamp Bill Watkin's and Mayor Darwin's proposals.
I often wonder which city leaders have the most to gain financially, politically and career-wise in projects of this magnitude?
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...
Not everyone is satisfied with how visioning process worked ...
Dec 29, 2007 ... The committee would comprise high-level representatives from the city, county, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce...
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

(Report Comment)

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