Former Rome Restaurant building faces demolition

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | 6:46 p.m. CDT; updated 10:04 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The Rome, an Italian restaurant in downtown Columbia, is currently closed, and owner Cory Hodapp applied for a demolition permit on Monday.

COLUMBIA — The building at 114 S. Ninth St. that housed The Rome Restaurant until June could be demolished as soon as the end of September. 

The building's owner, Cory Hodapp, said he plans to convert the site into a larger mixed-use residential and commercial space.

"Our goal is to try to preserve the building, renovate it and expand it," Hodapp said. "Our plan B is to raze the building and move forward."

It would be "considerably" cheaper to demolish the entire building, which shares a wall with Booche's, Hodapp said. But he would like the building to look more like it did a century ago, when it was a location for Columbia Auto Co.

Hodapp's demolition application must make its way through the Historic Preservation Commission, which has a month to research the history of the property. Although the building is about a century old, it hasn't been placed on the historic register because so many changes have been made, said Rachel Bacon, a planner for the city. 

"A property owner always has the right to demolish," Bacon said. "But the commission does kind of work with them on thinking about alternatives."

After the Historic Preservation Commission has examined the property, the owner has six months to begin demolition.

Hodapp doesn't need to go through the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission, Bacon said. But city officials consider The Rome a "non-conforming structure" because it's close to the sidewalk and the adjacent alley, and Hodapp will need to address that for the city to approve building plans. 

"Because his building encroaches into the sidewalk, any time he does something new with his building he's going to have to make it right," Bacon said. "The city isn't going to go around making people fix things like this, but when they want to do something new, that's when they're required to come up to compliance." 

The Rome Restaurant might move into the new storefront, Hodapp said.

"We're exploring all options (for the) location," he said.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.

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