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Fifth and Walnut parking garage to be tallest in Columbia

Friday, September 24, 2010 | 3:26 p.m. CDT; updated 4:46 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 24, 2010
Construction is still under way on a parking garage near Walnut and Fifth streets. The 10-level garage is to be completed in December 2010, and it will hold 703 parking spaces.

COLUMBIA — When the parking structure at Fifth and Walnut streets is completed in December, it will be the tallest garage in Columbia, just two feet shorter than The Tiger Hotel.

The need for this much space is tied to growth downtown and the consolidation of a number of offices into the new City Hall building, Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said. 

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“The growth could certainly support the size,” St. Romaine said.

Upon completion, the structure will cover approximately 270,000 square feet, according to Dave Rexin, the project manager from Graham Construction, Inc., of Omaha, Neb.

Cost per square foot is roughly $52, with the total amount projected at $14 million.

The project is funded by special obligation revenue improvement bonds, according to Jill Stedem, spokeswoman for the city's Public Works Department. The bonds will be repaid through parking revenue generated by garage occupancy.

“We have a 10 percent contingency, and to my understanding we won’t go over that,” St. Romaine said.

Knowing for certain if the project stays within its budget, though, won’t be possible until it is finished, he said.

While large garages are similar to small ones structurally, high strength concrete is needed to build the bigger ones, said Dave Ryan, the director of operations for Walker Parking Consultants of Elgin, Ill., the company that designed the garage.

This concrete contains more cement than usual in a mix with sand, water and stone to support the extra weight of the structure.

Another design feature of the Fifth and Walnut garage came from the aesthetic decision to make it look like a brick building, Rexin said. Decorative brick panels are welded to the structure, a process that began earlier this week.

Space in the garage will provide parking for both government and private business employees, as well as the general public.

Columbia police cars will be allotted 48 below-grade parking spots and wash-down bays. Currently, these vehicles must park in metered spots on the street.

Ground-level space in the garage is dedicated to offices and retail.

Regional Economic Development, Inc., or REDI, which helps small businesses start up, will occupy one of the office spaces, St. Romaine said.

Incorporated into the garage design are panels of colored glass designed by Stuart Keeler to cover the exterior of the northwest stair tower, according to an earlier Missourian report.

Titled “Sky Algorithm,” Keeler's work will pull colors from the Columbia sky through pieces of colored glass surrounding the tower.

The artist plans to etch the panes of glass with timestamps detailing when that particular color could be viewed in the sky, as well as words in languages of cities sharing the 38th latitudinal parallel with Columbia.


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