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Second-story lofts offer new perspective on city living

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | 7:20 p.m. CDT
Anne Derryberry sits in her loft Thursday in North Village Lofts, located on the corner of Walnut and Orr streets. Derryberry is part of the Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellows Program and is staying in Columbia until May 2011, which makes the space an ideal place to live.

COLUMBIA — Anne Derryberry has traveled around the world, spending time in southern Africa, western Europe and parts of Asia.

Last summer she came to Columbia.

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She left Sonoma, Calif., to spend a year on a fellowship at the MU School of Journalism and was captivated by college life right away. "I've fallen into Oz," she recalled thinking.

Derryberry, 51, decided to look for a place to live near campus where she wouldn't need to bother with a car.

She found exactly what she wanted in a new development called North Village Lofts at Walnut and Orr streets.

"I had a fantasy about being able to find a loft space," she said.  "Bing, bang, bong, it all just fell into place."

North Village Lofts is just one of the developments recently added to downtown as Columbia seeks to make urban living appealing to a diverse mix of residents. Brookside Downtown is another new project with a dozen apartments.

"There are different lofts downtown committed to different types of people," said Arnie Fagan, the managing broker at ARG! Commercial Real Estate.

Up to 1,250 additional housing units could be added to Columbia's downtown in the next decade, said Bryan Taylor Robinson, a senior urban designer from H3 Studio who works as a consultant with Columbia planners.

Like others who live downtown, Derryberry said she finds her central location intriguing and convenient.

"I have restaurants everywhere, I've got things to do, the Ragtag Cinema," she said. "I mean it's great."

Her loft is a blend of contemporary and traditional, with wooden beams and stainless steel, exposed pipes and sleek new countertops.

She has a small living area that brings in natural light during the day. A window in the kitchen provides an ever-changing view of downtown.

Although she said she loves the location, Derryberry does long for a fresh food market within walking distance.

"There's the Root Cellar, but that doesn't have the full variety you might need," added Mike McClung, who lives on Cherry Street.

McClung, 32, also said a downtown location makes sense for his job and lifestyle.

He and his brother, Patrick, own Deja Vu Comedy Club, Quinton's Bar and Deli, and Dungarees, so living downtown allows him to keep an eye on their properties while being part of "the little bit of hustle and bustle" of Columbia.

College students, too, find downtown living attractive.

Kelley Larson, a junior at MU, shares a loft with five of her sorority sisters above Geisha Sushi Bar.

Their loft looks more like a traditional apartment, aside from the large wooden front door and an ornate, oversize door knob.

Tile floors lead to the kitchen, dining room and living space, and a narrow hallway leads to bedrooms, a laundry room and storage space.

Larson said living downtown complements the student lifestyle.

"We can walk to campus to go to class or go to a coffee shop to study, go to the restaurants or if it's Thursday we can go to the bars," said Tara Badgley, an MU junior and one of Larson's roommates.

"I know that our shopping has increased, but we're helping the economy," said Lindsay Pike, also a junior.

Others like the proximity to music and nightlife and don't miss the chores of a suburban detached home.

Derryberry said she can listen to concerts just by opening her window. She also appreciates the lofty view.

"Being perched up here like this is quite special," Derryberry said, looking out at the skyline. "I feel quite fortunate for this."

Although the downtown experience is unconventional, it still offers a sense of community similar to any other neighborhood.

"You see the same people walking downtown, so you always say hi," Larson said.


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