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Property owners inching toward Community Improvement District on Business Loop

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Broken pavement lines parking lots and sidewalks alongside Business Loop 70 in Columbia. Areas between College Avenue and Interstate 70 are being considered for a Community Improvement District.

COLUMBIA — The drivers who traversed Interstate 70 in the 1970s could always count on finding a family-friendly oasis in Columbia: Business Loop 70.

What is now a five-lane stretch of road notorious for its strip clubs, pawn shops and payday loan outlets used to be a scenic, two-lane road populated with hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

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Some of the area's property owners hope to restore Business Loop to its former glory by establishing a Community Improvement District and raising the area's sales tax by a half-cent.

Jack Miller, the owner of True Media at 500 Business Loop 70 W., has been working for years to build consensus among property owners for a CID. 

Support for it has been "overwhelming," he said, but so far there's no timetable for setting it up.

Dave Griggs, the owner of Flooring America at 801 Business Loop 70 E., supports the CID and the tax increase because he remembers when Business Loop was "the highway," and he wants to see it bounce back.

The proposed CID would include buildings facing Business Loop between College Avenue and Interstate 70. The money from the half-cent sales tax increase would go toward projects such as burying power lines, expanding green space and improving utility infrastructure such as sewage and water mains.

The business loop CID would work like the downtown CID, said Carrie Gartner, the executive director of the Downtown CID Board.

Robert Hollis, an attorney with Van Matre, Harrison, Hollis, Taylor and Bacon P.C., wrote the petition for the Business Loop CID. Once petitioners collect signatures from 51 percent of Business Loop property owners, City Clerk Sheela Amin will review the petition to make sure the signers also own 51 percent of the property on Business Loop. From there, it will go to the Columbia City Council for final approval.

If the council votes to establish it, the mayor will then appoint seven property or business owners from Business Loop to a standing board. That board would decide how to spend the revenue from the sales tax increase and which projects would begin first, Miller said.

However, even if the CID is approved by property owners and the council, increasing the sales tax by a half-cent would take a separate vote, Gartner said. Ballots would be mailed to the property owners, and the vote couldn't occur at the same time as any other election.

The sales tax increase for the downtown CID was not voted on until a year after the district's establishment, Gartner said.

The CID board could also be an opportunity for Business Loop property owners to collectively represent their interests to other entities, including city council or the Missouri Department of Transportation, Miller said.

Miller would like to see a long term plan developed for Business Loop so it's not left behind again.

Griggs hopes the CID will "make the loop a destination place, which it should be, and was years ago."

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.


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