A plan to widen Interstate 70 could displace 51 Columbia businesses, including the landmark Jack’s Gourmet Restaurant, according to a new report commissioned by the Columbia Planning and Zoning Department.
The report estimates that the businesses represent 873 full-time jobs and $105 million in sales that would be lost during the five to 10 years the interstate is under construction. Those businesses accounted for about $1 million of sales and property tax revenue for the city in 2003, the report said.
“That certainly gets the attention of anyone working on a city budget in Columbia,” City Manager Ray Beck said Friday during a briefing.
The report, conducted by the Economic Development Research Group in Boston, indicates that 79 percent of the affected jobs and 78 percent of the business sales “are likely to shift to other locations within the city while the remainder, representing 230 jobs and $22 million of business sales, is likely to be lost due to closure.”
In addition to businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and retail shops, the list of those affected by the “footprint” of the I-70 plan includes government buildings and offices for organizations and utilities.
The Boone County Fire Protection District’s headquarters, located immediately northwest of Interstate 70 and Stadium Boulevard, is on the list, but Chief of Staff Rob Brown said on Saturday he believes the highway expansion would only affect the district’s parking lot.
The report also examined the possible benefits the widening and reconstruction of I-70 might bring the city, and it suggested how the city can minimize initial negative impacts.
Ken Applegate, owner of Jack’s Gourmet Restaurant, said his property near the east end of Business Loop 70 had been surveyed as part of the planning process. The building that houses Jack’s Gourmet has been in the food service business since 1927.
“People have been married, engaged and divorced here,” Applegate said. “There is a lot of history to this place. It’s amazing to be here all these years and have progress take you over like this.”
Nilson Funeral Home on St. Charles Road just north of I-70 might lose its parking lot to the project and need to move.
“It’s no problem for us if I-70 comes,” said Nilson’s Don Lee. “We’ve been here eight years. We can just relocate a mile or so down the road.”
Other businesses could close down.
“We would probably try to relocate, but another store was just built right down the road, so we might just close,” said Chris Davis of the Phillips 66 on Stadium Boulevard just south of I-70.
“If this happens, it will affect a lot of people,” Davis said.
The widening of Interstate 70 may be detrimental to some businesses in the short-term, but it can potentially benefit Columbia in the long run, the report said, noting that the project would enhance Columbia as a prime location for manufacturing, trucking and warehousing businesses. Increased interstate traffic would also expand commerce by creating additional demand for restaurants and service stations.
Release of the report coincided with an announcement Friday by consultants that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been approved by the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. Release of the impact statement is final step of the pre-construction process.
The public will be invited to comment on the proposed plan at a hearing from 4 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 2525 North Stadium Blvd.
The Federal Highway Administration will need to approve a final “record of decision” in order for DOT to begin project design, depending on available funds. Currently, there is no funding allocated for the design or construction of any Interstate 70 improvements.