UPDATE: The Tiger Hotel seeks sidewalk registration area

Monday, May 6, 2013 | 5:57 p.m. CDT; updated 7:05 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 7, 2013
A stack of bricks awaits placement in the new sidewalk under construction in front of The Tiger Hotel on Monday. The hotel's owners are seeking permission from the Columbia City Council to construct a bulbed-out sidewalk and hotel registration area that would allow guests to park directly in front of the entrance while they load and unload vehicles or register for their hotel stay. The hotel would reimburse the city for lost parking meter revenue.

COLUMBIA — The Tiger Hotel's facelift is almost complete.

With work on the interior of the historic hotel finished, workers now have turned their attention to the sidewalk. Plans call for a heated sidewalk with a new brick layout and trees by the street. Dan Johnson, a partner in the hotel project with majority owner Glyn Laverick, said the sidewalk plans should be a nice finishing touch.

"It could become a cool pedestrian area, very aesthetically pleasing," Johnson said.

Johnson and Laverick, as Columbia Hotel Investments, are asking the Columbia City Council to approve the sidewalk plans and to amend city ordinances to allow for hotel registration zones downtown. The zones would allow hotel guides to park in front of the hotel while loading, unloading or registering for a stay.

Two ordinances establishing the registration zones and authorizing the sidewalk improvements were introduced at Monday night's council meeting.

The project would look similar to the sidewalk outside of Boone County National Bank at Broadway and Eighth Street. 

The only delay left in completing work outside of the iconic hotel is bricks and custom grates that will surround the trees along the sidewalk. Johnson said he did not know a date for when the work will be done, but he said it wouldn't be much longer.

Construction outside of The Tiger Hotel is part of an initiative to beautify the Avenue of the Columns, the section of South Eighth Street between MU's Francis Quadrangle and the columns at Courthouse Square.

"The mission of the Avenue of the Columns Committee is to create a beautiful walkway from Columns to Columns," reads the official overview for the Avenue of the Columns project.

The costs of construction for the new sidewalk fall on the hotel, though those would not be the only costs incurred by the beautification of the front of the building. The project would require the removal of three parking meters, and the hotel would have to pay the city $1,600 per meter every year to the city. That's the same amount that banks and others pay for meter hoods.

Public Works Director John Glascock wrote in a report to the council that the sidewalk arrangement could improve pedestrian safety since it would reduce the need for hotel customers to cart luggage from more distant places.

While the costs might be steep, the benefits would be tangible for customers of the hotel, Johnson said. Valet parking will be made easier, with more room for visitors to pull their cars up to The Tiger Hotel. Cars will still be parked in the parking garage directly across South Eighth Street.

The improved valet service doesn't mean additional jobs, however, as the hotel has been offering valet parking for at least three months.

"It's a project 10 years in the works," Johnson said. "We're excited about it."

The council is scheduled to make a final vote on the enabling ordinances at its May 20 meeting.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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