Downtown Leadership Council recommends H3 to head downtown design

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A collaborative vision of downtown development could soon be produced by a St. Louis design firm.

The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council will recommend to City Council that H3 come up with a design plan for future development areas. H3 was selected Tuesday from eight original proposals and four finalists.

If approved, the firm would conduct an urban design charrette — a series of meetings over several days to complete a project by a specified deadline. At these meetings, stakeholders and the general public would give the firm input on how they want to develop downtown Columbia.

"We must work to ensure future infill development is compatible with the existing built environment and enhances the downtown experience," said Randy Gray, chairman of the council, at a previous meeting.

Gray said H3's capability is apparent in the personnel they have assigned to the project, including skilled architects and a person with experience as a social worker.

Linda Rootes, the North Central Neighborhood representative on the council, agreed.

"I feel really good about the team they've assembled for our particular projects," Rootes said.

Members of the council also expressed interest in H3's focus on sustainability.

"Data could come out of this that would help us take steps in sustainability and accelerate community understanding of the link between design and energy conservation," said Ken Pearson, the Boone County Commission representative on the council.

H3's charrette schedule includes a two-day kickoff and introduction to the process, then meetings for the next five days.

"They will take those five days and gather all that input, and they'll turn that into a document, which would show up in print form. And we'll have Web links and PDF files people could go online and see," Gray said. "The firm will come up with a set of recommendations, complete with drawings and diagrams. We don't want a bunch of words and numbers."

Gray said once finished the plan might come across something like those featured on the Sierra Club's Web site.

The meetings will most likely start sometime in April. H3 would receive $60,000 already included in the city budget to complete the charrette.

Gray said the council hopes to receive additional funding for this or future charrettes in next year's city budget.

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Blake Segafredo February 24, 2010 | 1:03 p.m.
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