Planning and Zoning approves new student apartments near MU

Thursday, February 20, 2014 | 10:41 p.m. CST; updated 11:21 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 20, 2014

COLUMBIA — Despite the uncertain future of downtown utilities, at least one student housing developer is still pushing forward.

American Campus Communities wants to build a five-story, 718-bed student apartment complex near MU's Mark Twain Hall. The development plan also includes a 546-space parking structure.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 8-1 Thursday in favor of rezoning. The 3.81-acre property is north of Turner Avenue, east of Providence Road, south of Stewart Road and west of Fifth Street.

American Campus Communities already owns three student-housing complexes in Columbia: Grindstone Canyon, Forrest Village and Woodlake, and the Cottages.

The property is currently zoned R-3 for medium-density, multiple-family dwellings. If the Columbia City Council approves the proposal, it would be rezoned to PUD 55, which allows for higher-density development. The project would replace 17 rental houses with 182 apartments.

In addition to the parking structure, the developers have set aside eight on-street parking spaces.

“This is the only student development that we have that meets 100 percent of its parking requirements,” Development Services Manager Patrick Zenner said.

The city's inadequate utility infrastructure shouldn't preclude rezoning, Zenner said.

“The use of the property is consistent with our plans and the area's needs.”

American Campus Communities will ask the Columbia City Council to guarantee utility service for the development by fall 2016, when it expects to begin leasing apartments.

The council recently voted down a proposed tax-increment financing plan to address the utilities problem, and city staff members said they cannot guarantee a timeline for a resolution.

Planning and Zoning recommended that the city withhold building permits until its utility problems have been addressed.

With the commission’s recommendation, the project will go before the City Council for final approval. The council will also vote on the developer's request to vacate Fourth Street south of Conley Avenue in order to make it a private road.

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Bill Weitkemper February 21, 2014 | 4:31 a.m.

If the five-story, 718-bed student apartment complex is required to have individual water meters, rather than a single master water meter, there will be significantly more water and sewer revenue generated and 20-40% less water used - meaning 20-40% less sewer capacity needed.

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