COLUMBIA — Residents of the Old Southwest donated enough money for the property of Robert Smarr to keep it from developers interested in the land.
The neighborhood group, Westmount Neighborhood Preservation LLC, closed on the property Monday and now owns the land and house. Boone County National Bank and Landmark Bank each gave the residents loans to help them buy the property.
The potential for development of the property, which is at the south end of Garth Avenue and is zoned for apartments, led neighborhood residents Bruce and Kathy Gordon to bid on the land. Bruce Gordon said about 85 families donated money for the actual purchase. He would not disclose the purchase price.
“We feel relief and elation,” Bruce Gordon said. “Relief that this property won’t be developed in a way that would clash with the peaceful character we now enjoy, and elation that so many wonderful neighbors and friends came together with such extraordinary support.”
Residents have no specific use for the property in mind just yet, but Garth Avenue resident Gabriel Fried hopes the property will be used for the best financial and neighborhood interests.
“I feel quite proud,” Fried said. “It was really a case of community activism, of a neighborhood rallying to preserve its integrity. I think it’s quite moving.”
Bruce Gordon said a neighborhood meeting will be held to discuss options for the property. The meeting is not yet scheduled.
“We spent a couple weeks making sure plans would go through, and now we will begin a dialogue on what the eventual fate of the property will be,” Gordon said.
Gordon said he is thankful not only for the donations he received from neighbors, but also for the help he got from others.
“We are very grateful to the Smarr family for having made this opportunity available to us, and to officials of Boone County National and Landmark banks, who helped facilitate the purchase,” Gordon said.
The maintenance of the land will be in the hands of the residents for now.