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Great Hang-ups owners unveil new development plans

Thursday, August 13, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
The owner of Great Hang-ups, Mark Nichols, is planning to replace the current structure at the corner of West Broadway and West Boulevard. Neighbors voiced concerns about Nichols' plan for rezoning and possible demolition of the building and adjoining properties.

COLUMBIA — Great Hang-ups owners Mark Nichols and Patra Mierzwa are trying to sell the property where the framing store has sat for 25 years.

The store, located at the intersection of West Broadway and West Boulevard, could be closing if Nichols' and Mierzwa's plan is approved to rezone the store, along with three surrounding houses they own, to planned commercial. They hope to either sell the property once it's rezoned or build a 12,000 square-foot mixed-use building on the site.

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About 10 Old Southwest Neighborhood Association members gathered Wednesday evening in the Columbia Public Library to discuss the rezoning of the property. Many residents said they are opposed to building a large structure on an already busy intersection because it might cause more traffic.

To counter that concern, the owners have indicated in their statement of intent to the city that they would donate right-of-way for a right turn lane from West Broadway onto West Boulevard.

Residents said they would prefer new residences be built on the property, but the owners and their attorney, Skip Walther, did not agree.

Walther said the building is outdated and sits too close to the intersection. The nearby houses, he said, are not well-suited to deal with the noise level of a busy intersection and have decreased in value.

"This area at this corner is better suited for commercial use than residential use," Walther said.

Walther proposed in the statement of intent that the property be used for a light commercial purpose and has listed options such as a coffee shop or pet store.

Combined, the properties equal about 6,400 square feet. The proposed plan would build a 12,000 square foot building divided into two stories with 6,000 square feet each — the bottom for commercial use and the top for residential.

"I'm not suggesting that there is going to be a significant increase in square footage," Walther said, adding that the D&H Drugstore property across the street is 5,000 square feet.

The ultimate goal of the project would be to provide residents with a light commercial business that would improve the quality of their neighborhood.

Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade attended the meeting and urged the neighbors to consider the potential benefits of a new business.

"Think of the value of a nice commercial business to the neighborhood," Wade said.

Some residents were worried that because Nichols and Mierzwa are trying to sell their properties the buyer could come in and use the property for something completely different. Wade and Walther assured residents that this was not a likely possibility, because once the statement of intent is final and approved it becomes a city ordinance. To propose a change would mean changing the ordinance, which Wade said would not be received well by the City Council.

Wade said there would be another meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Daniel Boone City Building. This will only be an informational meeting and will not be open for public discussion. However, Nichols, Mierzwa and Walther are willing to host another meeting if necessary, they said.

The zoning application is tentatively scheduled to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Sept. 10.


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