The Columbia Housing Authority is close to hiring a consultant for its planned redevelopment along Park Avenue. Information about the two firms vying for the job will be made public after the deal is finalized.
Tonight, the housing authority is scheduled to hear from Richard Mendenhall, chairman of the authority’s housing task force. A subcommittee of the task force, composed of housing agency’s commissioners, representatives from the city and local professionals, has been evaluating the proposals since March, and Mendenhall is scheduled to share its recommendation tonight. The cutoff for proposals was February 25.
After Mendenhall speaks, commissioners plan to vote to select a consultant from the two firms that submitted proposals. A consultant will research the feasibility of a revitalization project on Park Avenue that could include the demolition of two existing public housing sites containing 70 housing units.
Hiring a consultant does not necessarily mean the project will materialize because it is not yet funded. The consultant will attempt to obtain funding for redevelopment by applying for grants, including a federal HOPE VI grant, which is a grant of federal funds for projects similar to the one proposed by the authority.
Once a consultant is selected, the housing agency and the chosen firm will negotiate the terms of a contract, which housing authority Executive Director Doris Chiles said she hopes will take about a week.
After a contract is signed, the proposals will be made public. However, a representative of the firm recommended by the housing task force is scheduled to be present at tonight’s meeting, so some details of the firm’s plans, as well as the firm’s identity, might come out before the proposals are officially revealed.
The proposals have been kept under wraps for almost two months in order to avoid interfering with the negotiation process. Chiles cited federal regulations for competitive bids as the reason the documents cannot be released before the firm is hired. Jean Manake, a lawyer for the Missouri Press Association, verified that the records could be temporarily kept secret, citing a portion of the Missouri Sunshine Law that allows for closed records related to a negotiated contract “until a contract is executed, or all proposals are rejected.”