Restaurant will occupy space in Fifth and Walnut parking garage

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | 5:08 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A Columbia restaurant plans to relocate to the Fifth and Walnut streets parking garage, and the city continues to look for another business to occupy the remaining space on the ground floor.

Barbara Buffaloe, sustainability manager for the city, said a restaurant already located in Columbia plans move into suites 109 and 110 and serve lunch, dinner and possibly breakfast. The restaurant will occupy two suites with a total of 3,309 square feet of space, complete with a second-floor balcony.

The name of the restaurant cannot be released until a contract with the city is finalized, Buffaloe said. The city hopes to have the five-year lease signed by the end of May, she said.

"We want to have the retail space add to the vibrancy downtown," Buffaloe said. "By having retail, you're adding walk-by traffic, and people feel more safe downtown."

The city requested proposals from potential tenants in February for the space to be occupied by the restaurant and an adjacent suite. The restaurant was the only bidder for the two suites it will occupy.

There were no bids for the other suite, which the city will develop the into a "white-box" space and reopen to bidders, Buffaloe said.

A "white-box" space is equipped with the basic needs, such as plumbing and electricity, and a coat of white paint. When a business signs the lease for the 1,226 square feet space, it can go in and add all the finishing touches, Buffaloe said. The business will decide on its own decorations and furnishing.

For now, the spaces are "just a shell," Buffaloe said, with concrete walls and gravel floors. The original architects of the garage, Peckham & Wright, are under contract to "white box" all the suites, and the firm's contract has been extended to complete construction documents for an additional $29,100. The spaces will then be put out for bid for a construction company to complete. 

Regional Economic Development Inc. was the first to move into the ground floor of the garage in December 2011.

"We became the anchor organization to start developing commercial space," REDI President Mike Brooks said.

REDI formed a partnership with the Small Business Technology Development Center and the League of Innovators. The three share a common interest in entrepreneurship in Columbia and are working together to develop one suite for a business incubator. This incubator will provide entrepreneurs of start-up businesses with a space to gather and share skills and ideas with other entrepreneurs. 

"We are promoting entrepreneurship by allocating space for that support system," Brooks said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Richard Saunders May 23, 2012 | 5:28 p.m.

I cannot wait to see this contract in order to determine who the sucker is (the restauranteur or the City).

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