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Columbia Missourian

Heidelberg block sees retail change

June 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT

Mixed-use building aims to attract more business

When the Old Heidelberg reopens its doors in early August, it will be just one change occurring on the section of Ninth Street between University Avenue and Elm Street.

Lion’s Choice, a roast beef sandwich restaurant, opened May 13 next to the Heidelberg in what used to be Osama’s Coffee Zone. Less than 50 feet away, a realty sign has been posted in MU parking lot WC-14.

“The more that’s going on in that area, the better it is for all that area,” said Jack Waters, owner of the parking lot.

But the Heidelberg is receiving the most attention. The restaurant had been open 40 years when an electrical fire destroyed it last August. The owners — Richard Walls and his two sons, Richard Jr. and Rusty Walls — promised they would rebuild.

An addition to the restaurant will be a rooftop patio, which will double the restaurant’s capacity to nearly 300 people.

“Quite a few people were concerned for the Heidelberg after the fire,” Richard Jr. said.

The only remnants from the fire, two ceramic tigers and four German beer steins, will be displayed in the restaurant when it opens.

Tom Ginos, managing member of Lion’s Choice franchise, Valley Beef LLC, said business has been good so far and expects the Heidelberg’s reopening to generate more foot traffic.

“(Business) exceeded expected sales,” he said. “Without being officially on campus, it’s as close as we can get.”

Valley Beef LLC is planning to add a second Columbia restaurant as part of a gas station and convenience store at Stadium Boulevard and Ash Street, after the current Phillips 66 gas station and vacant Crown Shoes building are torn down, Ginos said.

“We are taking it one at a time and will see how the second one goes,” he said.

Down the street from Lion’s Choice stands a realty sign for Plaza Real Estate Services on the MU parking lot WC-14. Waters said he is looking for a tenant candidate who would thrive on campus.

“I’m actually not interested in selling it,” Waters said. “I’m interested in building on it.”

The construction would be a mixed-use building, with a business on the ground floor and a residential area on top. Possible businesses could be a retail store or restaurant, Waters said.

The parking lot is being leased yearly to MU and will be renewed in June, Waters said. MU is paying $45 a month for each of the 47 spaces that are being leased for a total of $2,115 a month. MU also owns the south end of the Ninth Street lot, where MU used to have a building and now has 11 parking spaces.

Jim Joy, MU director of parking and transportation, said the loss of the 58 spaces would not create a parking crunch for MU.

“Once we built Hitt Street Garage, there was really no purpose in having it as far as a capacity standpoint,” Joy said. “It’s just handy to have.”

The garage is cheaper – 50 cents for 75 minutes — than the lot – 50 cents an hour.

Out of Hitt Street Garage’s 1,820 spaces, approximately 1,000 spaces are available for meter receipts.

The university would not necessarily keep the lot, Joy said, but might see if a driveway could be constructed to keep its part of the lot active if someone builds on the other part.

The lease with MU will not be renewed if there is a tenant candidate, Waters said.

“The parking lot was not the best use for that piece of property,” he said.