Commission approves of Dillard’s addition

Friday, February 11, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:21 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dillard’s Department Store is looking to expand upward – and the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission approves.

The commission passed Dillard’s proposal Thursday to add a second floor to the Columbia Mall location. The measure will now go before the City Council on Feb. 21.

“It’s a good idea for them to build up, rather than going out,” commission member Doug Wheeler, said at the meeting.

The plan calls for a new story that will bring the store’s total square footage to 148,052. The addition would make Dillard’s the largest anchor store at the mall, beating out JC Penney, Sears and Target.

More parking will also be available in the new plan. Fifty-five parking spaces will be added to the current 3,678 spaces.

The Dillard’s company — based in Little Rock, Ark. — has opened 14 department stores in Missouri, though its Kansas City store closed in 2002. In Columbia, it’s major competitor is Famous Barr, owned by Missouri-based May Department Stores Co. Since opening in 2003, Famous Barr boasted the largest floor space among the department stores in town.

However, neighboring Columbia Mall doesn’t feel threatened.

“We are glad to have Famous Barr here,” said Katie Essing, group director of General Growth, developer of Columbia Mall.

Essing said Famous Barr is quite popular among Missourians. After its opening, more people drove to Columbia for shopping rather than making the trip to Kansas City or St. Louis.

Columbia has traditionally been a destination of shoppers in mid-Missouri. A big selection of retailers is a major attraction. Columbia Mall alone has 140 stores plus four anchors. The colleges and medical centers located in the city also increase the number of people traveling from neighboring communities.

Despite the growth of department stores, the city’s sales tax is not growing as fast as it did in the early to mid ‘90s.

Don Laird, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said the emphasis of the city’s economic department lures manufacturers and office-type investment.

“We don’t recruit retail business,” Laird said. “They find everything on their own.”

Nationwide, Dillard’s has 331 stores in 29 states. It expects to open four more stores during the spring of 2005.

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