H3 Studio focuses on two downtown nodes for revitalizing

Thursday, June 10, 2010 | 8:16 p.m. CDT; updated 10:25 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 16, 2010
City officials, the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council and H3 Studios began a three-phase, four-week
series of planning sessions on Thursday. Designated stakeholders were invited to participate in specific meetings; public forums and lectures, open to all, are scheduled throughout the series to present ideas and to receive feedback.
These series of meetings aim to develop a vision and implementation strategy for two key areas identified as priorities in the May 2009 Downtown Columbia Leadership Council Interim Report.

COLUMBIA — Stakeholders interested in revitalizing the downtown area's functions and appearance began meetings with H3 Studio Inc. on Thursday and focused on two areas, or nodes, at the east and west sides of The District.

The Broadway and Providence Road intersection was one identified node. Its boundaries are Garth Avenue and Sixth Street and Park Avenue and Elm Street.

The North Village Arts District is the other node. College Avenue flanks it on the east with Ninth Street at the west. Rogers and Elm streets mark its north and south borders.

"These two areas work as seams to the downtown neighborhoods," said John Hoal, one H3's founders.

Hoal added that these sections function within a larger scale, what H3 identified as a greater downtown study area. 

Stakeholders, including developers, landowners, city government officials and neighborhood association leaders, toured The District with H3 consultants and then met to discuss opportunities and challenges for developing downtown.

"We get stakeholders together to start talking to us and talking to each other," Hoal said. "We've touched a cross section of people who use the downtown area."

Discussion that concerned the Broadway-Providence Road intersection included questions of downtown's western boundary — does it start at Garth or Providence? — and the issue of Providence as a psychological barrier.

Hoal said the firm's job is to look for consensus issues and ideas. He said it's too early to identify overlapping themes. 

At the public meeting 4 p.m. Friday at the Columbia College Banquet Room, H3 plans to present everything they have heard up to that point.

"People can add to that, they can agree with it, or they can disagree with it," Hoal said.

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