COLUMBIA— Downtown might not be too far from a makeover.
Nine consulting firms are in the running to be part of an urban design "charette," an idea developed by the Downtown Leadership Council this past August to improve downtown. This charette would get input from the community about the expansion and development of the area, which is bordered by Stewart Road and University Avenue to the south, Old 63 to the east, Business Loop 70 to the north and Garth Avenue to the west.
The chosen consulting firm would be responsible for reviewing the city's plans and setting goals for downtown by asking people what they think the city should do with the area through open meetings.
The applicants have submitted their qualifications, and the council asked all nine to submit proposals for the job. Members originally planned to narrow the candidate pool before asking for requests for proposals, but the council didn't eliminate any firms.
"All of these firms have a basic understanding of our project," Chairman Randy Gray said.
These proposals will be a maximum of 20 pages outlining what the consultant would do. The drafted instructions for the proposals say the firm would have $60,000 to $70,000 for projects. City Manager Bill Watkins said he would authorize this much money for redevelopment, Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said.
These nine consulting firms will be asked to submit proposals by Dec. 4. A subcommittee will review them and recommend about four or five of the proposals to the council, which will select two or three to interview.
A final recommendation is expected in January. The City Council will make the final decision.