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New 'gateways' planned for downtown Columbia, MU

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | 8:09 p.m. CDT; updated 8:52 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

COLUMBIA — Downtown Columbia is in the process of getting a makeover thanks to the Downtown Community Improvement District and private MU donors.

After reviewing proposals and resumes from eight companies, the improvement district has narrowed its search for a gateway project designer to three companies, Brent Gardner, chair of the Downtown Leadership Council, said at a meeting Tuesday night. 

"There are three good choices and two exceptional choices," Gardner said.

One of the finalists is a local company, while the others are from St. Louis and Omaha, Neb. 

The purpose of the gateway project is to remodel and embellish the entrances into downtown to promote visitor satisfaction. Funding for the project is provided by a half-cent sales tax on downtown purchases that voters approved in 2011. This will be one of the improvement district's first beautification projects since the sales tax was approved.

Locations for the improvement district's gateways have not been chosen.

"What the designer comes up with will determine where (the gateways) go," Gardner said.

Possible locations include the intersection of Broadway and Waugh Street, Broadway and Providence Road, Ninth Street near Shakespeare's Pizza or Tenth Street heading downtown from Columbia College.

"If you're going to design gateways for downtown, they need to be located downtown," Downtown Leadership Councilcq board member Randy Graycq said.

Gardner said he is bothered by the continual use of the word 'district' in this project.

"I think there's probably 20 people that call downtown The District," Gardner said, with a laugh. "People that don't work or live in The District I don't think use that word, so if the gateway ends up saying welcome to The District, I'm not sure that we have accomplished a lot."

The new gateways could be anything from columns with lights, to banners or fountains. Nothing specific has been proposed for the project, Gardner said, but the companies were given a chance to show off their creative side.

Improvement district board member Deb Sheals said the designers who have tailored community-specific projects in their past work were especially impressive.

The gateways "should be designed specifically for Columbia," Sheals said. 

Gardner said costs for the gateway project have not been discussed.

MU entrances will also receive improvements after limestone signs are built and installed at two Stadium Boulevard intersections and the intersection of College and University avenues.

Donors of the new signs include Trittenbach Construction, the company that has built the Brookside Apartments buildings throughout downtown, as well as K&S Associates of St. Louis and River City Construction of Central Missouri. The new signs are expected to be complete in time for the beginning of the fall semester, according to a MU news release.

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.


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Comments

Jimmy Bearfield June 26, 2013 | 7:31 a.m.

When I used to say that the folks downtown sure know how to waste tax money, I was referring only to city hall. Then again, maybe the gateways are something people can duck behind when there's another drive-by.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 26, 2013 | 8:03 a.m.

"...I'm not sure that we have accomplished a lot."

"Funding for the project is provided by a half-cent sales tax on downtown purchases,"

..."to promote visitor satisfaction..."
__________________

My initial response was "Huh?" which quickly changed to "Why?" which morphed into "I'm sure glad I don't contribute to that 1/2 cent sales tax very much."

I've lived in-or-near Columbia for 42 years, so in 8 years I'm under consideration as a "native". I think there has to be a vote of some sort. Columbia has been a GREAT place to live. It's NOT a great place to VISIT unless there is a sporting event.

We are NOT a destination. Just ask all those folks traveling I-70 headed....somewhere else. Frankly, we don't have much.

Is this an exercise in self-importance? Somehow this reminds me of the Columbia business (1980s) that felt under-appreciated hereabouts and proposed paying its employees in 2 dollar bills so every other business (plus city fathers and...er...mothers) would KNOW how important it really was.

Guess I don't get it.

PS: Build a big lake..........

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 26, 2013 | 10:07 a.m.

Michael:

Twin lakes: Lake Alden and Lake Deaton. :)

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders June 26, 2013 | 10:43 a.m.

Man, just think how great this place could be if only we had more free money.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 26, 2013 | 5:24 p.m.

Ellis: Twin Lakes ain't big enuf.

I'm thinking drown Cedar and Hinkson Creeks all the way to the Missouri River.

THOSE would be lakes.

Destination lakes.

Lake of the Ozarks would become a ghosttown.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 26, 2013 | 6:18 p.m.

Actually, Michael, I wasn't thinking of THOSE Twin Lakes but of creating two new and larger lakes.

Cheer up! You could be living(?) in a college town such as Butte, Montana or Socorro, New Mexico. Sudents living at the former refer fondly to their location as "Butt, Montana, the ***hole of the world," while students at the latter pronounce "Socorro" as "Suck-orro." Socorro is Spanish for "help;" Socorro, New Mexico needs lots of help.

An hour's drive west of Socorro off US 60 is something tourists DO visit: the National Radio Astronomy Observatory VLA (Very Large Array) Telescope. Film footage of that facility has figured in Hollywood science fiction films.

Sixty miles southeast of Socorro is the 1945 "Trinity" site. You may recall what happened there. The site was picked because there was nothing around for miles for the nuclear blast to destroy.

"We'll put those horny Geek students someplace where they can't bother decent folks or other college students."

(Report Comment)

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