COLUMBIA — The city is keeping the door open to a public garage larger than the one originally planned at Short Street.
The City Council unanimously favored one of two garage designs presented at a work session Monday evening. Reaching consensus on how big to build the garage may be more difficult. A public hearing about the garage's construction is scheduled for the council's Oct. 3 meeting.
The council agreed to request a bid for the current five-story design, which allows for 340 spaces. They will also request two alternate bids: One for an extra half-story to gain approximately 35 parking spaces and one for a full fifth story to bring the total to about 410 spaces.
The first alternative was already being discussed when developer Dave Parmley, who will develop a DoubleTree hotel next to the garage, suggested getting a bid for a full level addition. The council agreed to consider both options.
If the council chooses to add more space, the half-level is estimated to cost $700,000 to $900,000 and the full level would be $1.2 million to $1.4 million.
Advance demand for spots at the garage totals 275 parking spaces, according to figures provided by city staff at the work session. The hotel developers have already asked to lease 100 spaces, as have the developers of an apartment complex to be built at College Avenue and Walnut Street.
Pending separate real estate negotiations, Boone County Family Resources might want 50 parking spaces, and a multi-use development adjacent to the garage expressed interest in 25 spots.
With a total of 340 spaces, that would leave 65 spaces for public metered parking, eight of which would be reserved for handicap accessibility. The extra half-level or full level of parking would bring the publicly available spaces up to 100 or 135, respectively.
Details about the possible multi-use building are still pending. North Light LLC has proposed a mixed-use development on the north side of the garage that could include retail and residential space.
The plans shown Monday integrate this hypothetical development into preliminary designs, including interior elevators that might open to both the garage and the North Light building.
Beyond the structural design and space allocation, other factors remain uncertain.
Before the public hearing, the council hopes to get more information about the viability of growing a living wall in Columbia’s climate. The concept of these "green screens" involves growing vines to spread across panels that are incorporated into the exterior walls of a building.
Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill expressed some skepticism that such living walls could be successfully grown here. Chris Davis, the consulting architect from Peckham and Wright Architects, said the walls are successfully used in buildings in Kansas City and St. Louis. The council agreed to gather more research before they decide whether to build it into the design of Short Street Garage.
The council also must decide whether the garage will have two or three elevators. Positioning elevators at three corners of the structure would offer more flexibility for the public to access their destination after parking. But leaving one of those elevators out of the final design would allow space for a "pocket park" in one corner.