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RECAP: After Brookside fire, uncertainty for tenants, owners

Monday, May 28, 2012 | 7:53 p.m. CDT; updated 7:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Firefighters Sunday morning worked to put out a fire that heavily damaged the Brookside on College apartments under construction at College Avenue and Walnut Street in downtown Columbia.

COLUMBIA — Shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday, Columbia Fire Department units responded to a large fire at the intersection of College Avenue and Walnut Street. Upon arriving at the scene at 5:13 a.m., crews found flames extending through the roof of the Brookside on College apartment complex. Firefighters controlled the blaze within 90 minutes, but not before an estimated $7 million in damages occurred to the 145,000-square-foot complex, according to the Fire Department.

Remnants of the fire were still being extinguished Monday, but authorities later declared that the fire was out.

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No one was injured, as the apartments were still under construction. They were scheduled to open to residents in August. Via Facebook, Brookside said it hoped to have 40 percent of the complex ready "on or shortly after the beginning of school this fall." The remainder could be ready by October, the post said.

Although for different reasons, residents of The Grove apartment complex encountered construction delays at the beginning of the fall semester in 2011, resulting in several tenants staying in hotels.

Brookside on College residents are free to break their lease due to an unforeseeable disasters clause, but several are wondering if it's too late to sign elsewhere. Stephens College officials plan to meet with Brookside owners Jonathan and Nathan Odle early this week to discuss a possible arrangement. The college is located across College Avenue from the complex.

The Odles also had plans to build a controversial four-story parking garage with 400 spaces — and a rooftop swimming pool — on the property. Across Walnut Street to the south, the Odles received support last week from Mayor Bob McDavid for a new, 120-unit apartment complex in exchange for helping fund a proposed bus route named FastCAT. The Planning and Zoning Commission previously denied the Odles' request to rezone the property during a meeting May 10.

The Odles also own Brookside Downtown, a student apartment complex at Tenth and Cherry streets that opened in August 2010, and Brookside Townhomes, 400 W. Old Plank Road.

Supervising editor is Frank Russell.


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