City’s tallest tower gets new group of owners

Sunday, August 3, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:37 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Downtown Columbia’s tallest building has become a centerpiece for development.

The historic Tiger Hotel, which is the site of the Tiger Columns senior housing community, was purchased by a group of Columbia business owners Thursday.

David Baugher, John Ott, Renea Sapp and Jack Miller bought the 75-year-old landmark for an undisclosed price from Beth Cayce, who bought the hotel in 1998. The new investors also manage Premier Marketing Group, which is home to KFRU as well as six other Columbia radio stations and five local publications.

Baugher said the group’s short-term plans for the building focus on the current senior living facilities. There are 60 rental units in the building, about 40 of which are leased. Baugher and his colleagues intend to work on improving the business and increasing the occupancy rates, he said.

Steve Morris, executive director for Tiger Columns, said he hasn’t heard anything about planned changes, but his priority is maintaining the independent living for seniors.

Significant portions of the building are underdeveloped, including the ninth floor, which is currently uninhabited. Built in 1928, the hotel and its extravagant ballroom once played host to some of Columbia’s most important social events.

Baugher said it is easy to imagine possibilities for the ninth floor, with ideas ranging from penthouse apartments to a restaurant.

“The ninth floor is the most beautiful view in Columbia, Mo.,” Morris said.

As for the Tiger Hotel neon sign, Baugher said, “We would love to turn it on.”

Missourian reporter Tim Ryan contributed to this report.

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