Columbia City Council denies rezoning for student housing

Monday, February 3, 2014 | 10:55 p.m. CST; updated 11:31 a.m. CST, Tuesday, February 4, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted Monday not to rezone land in south Columbia for more luxury housing marketed to students.

The property, located near the intersection of Stadium and Maguire boulevard, would have been developed into an 899-bed complex — the second-largest, after Aspen Heights.

Karl Skala, Fred Schmidt, Barbara Hoppe and Ian Thomas voted against the zoning change; Bob McDavid, Laura Nauser and Michael Trapp voted in favor of it.

"It's too intense, too car-oriented, and there are other designs that would work," Thomas said.

Park 7 Group, which is also angling to build a 25-story tower on Elm Street, applied to rezone the nearly 50 acres of agricultural land to residential zoning.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the rezoning on Nov. 21, 2013.

The more student housing is on the market, the cheaper it will become, McDavid said.

"Those who are willing to put their money on the line should be the arbitrator" of the property, he said.

The Domain, another student-oriented development, sits on the adjacent property.

At least a dozen residents voiced opposition to the development. Some residents said they were concerned about safety and the strain on Columbia's infrastructure. Other residents said the city shouldn't abide another luxury, student-oriented apartment complex at a time when MU enrollment rates are not increasing.

The residents who spoke at the meeting — many of whom live near the proposed development — said they favor building student housing that is more affordable and closer to campus instead.

Vicki Carstens, chair of the MU Linguistics Department, said the downtown area thrives because of the large student presence. Pushing students farther away to suburban apartment complexes will take away from downtown's vitality, she said.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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Bill Fisher February 4, 2014 | 2:15 p.m.

A 25-story tower downtown would make much more sense. Besides, I'd like to see Columbia keep growing upward, not expanding out.

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