*This story has been modified to correct the list of city departments who attended a planning meeting with representatives of the Odle family.
COLUMBIA — A strange sight lies just south of Ponderosa Street, near Columbia's southern city limits. Short stubs of concrete extend east and west from Discovery Parkway, ending in fields of grass.
A transportation development district is a public body established by state statute. It can impose up to a 1 percent sales tax on retail sales within its boundaries. Generally established by developers, they help finance roads and infrastructure around commercial developments. Developers who want to create TDDs must first file court petitions, which are subject to approval by a judge. Once a TDD is established, those who own property in the district must elect a board of directors and vote to establish the sales tax. There are 13 TDDs in Columbia.
To learn more about TDDs, read this comprehensive series the Missourian published in 2009.
The short streets were built about four years ago, a sign that the previous owners of the surrounding property expected to fully develop it. But their plans never worked out. The land lies empty now, with grass swaying between clumps of trees and an abandoned metal-roofed building slumping beside Ponderosa Street.
It appears that's about to change. The property is now owned by Bruce Odle, who owns about 185 acres bordered on the west by Philips Lake Park and Fr. Tolton Catholic High School, on the east by Ponderosa Street and on the south by Gans Road.
Odle won approval of a preliminary plat for 143 acres of the property in September 2011. The City Council approved a final plat for that land Monday evening.
Bruce Odle is the father of Jonathan and Nathan Odle, who are the developers of the Brookside apartments downtown. The brothers run Trittenbach Development, which met last week with city officials to discuss a plan to fill some of these empty fields with apartments, offices and retail space.
Last Thursday, the developers held a concept review meeting with city officials from the Community Development, Parks and Recreation, Water and Light and Public Works and Fire departments*. At the meeting, they provided a site plan that outlines their preliminary ideas for the project, dubbed Discovery Park Subdivision.
The proposal includes:
- Four large apartment buildings. Two would have 142 apartments each, and two would have 96 each.
- Eighteen smaller apartment buildings.
- Twenty-one four-plex apartment buildings.
- Two pool houses.
- Two office buildings.
- Twenty-one retail spaces.
- One convenience store or gas station.
- One fast-food restaurant.
Matthew Lepke, a city planner in the Community Development Department who is working on the project, said he expects the Odles will have to seek rezoning for some of the property to accommodate their plans. The parcels now are zoned C-3, C-P and O-P, or general business, planned business and planned office, respectively.
“It’s tough for them because of this mishmash of zones,” Lepke said. “We know there will need to be some changes made.”
The Odles also intend to create a transportation development district, or TDD, that will collect an extra sales tax to recover money spent on a series of planned infrastructure improvements to the area, such as roads, water mains and stormwater drains.
On May 10, the Odles' attorney, Craig Van Matre, filed a petition in Boone County Circuit Court to create the TDD. If approved by a judge, the district would impose a tax of 0.625 percent on sales within the district.
According to the petition, the money would be used to pay for a new access road, two traffic circles, storm drains, a new water main and other loosely specified transportation improvements.
Lepke said he expects the Odles to file a more formal development plan soon. That plan would be the subject of a public meeting with city planners. The plan and any accompanying rezoning requests would then go to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which would hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to the Columbia City Council.
The Odles did not respond to requests for comment.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.