COLUMBIA — The City Council approved a plan for Regional Economic Development Inc. to lease retail space in the garage at Fifth and Walnut streets for offices.
REDI, a public-private economic development organization for the Columbia area, would have a few thousand square feet of office space in the new parking garage, as well as space for a small business development center.
The new office space would be located on the first floor of the parking garage, and City Manager Bill Watkins said it would be close to the police station. The area behind the frontage would then be used for parking.
The approved lease plan would allow REDI to begin architectural work since the space leased is totally unfinished, Watkins said.
The agreement between REDI and the city outlines the lease in two phases.
In the first phase, REDI’s base lease payments on its office space will be deferred for seven years, although REDI will cover monthly parking and all utilities.
After the initial seven years, REDI will have the option of extending the lease.
The second phase outlines the options available to REDI to fund downtown “incubator space” or an entrepreneurial center.
REDI would need to secure independent funding and a $425,000 government grant, which is pending in the U.S. Senate. If the federal funding is not approved, REDI would need to seek funding from other sources.
This option period for REDI would end Jan. 15, 2012, after which the city could extend or terminate the option.
“We have had people approach us with whether of not that space would be available,” Watkins said. “This kind of gives us good reasons to say, ‘Nope, you need to wait a year.’”