Blue Ridge commercial, office development OK’d

Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:23 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The proposal for a 19-acre commercial and office development, which is part of the Blue Ridge Center, was unanimously approved by the Columbia City Council on Monday night.

This 19-acre development at Blue Ridge and Providence roads in north Columbia is part of a 45-acre development spanning Blue Ridge from Range Line Street to Providence. Both Range Line and Providence will be undergoing major improvements in the near future. The Providence Road portion that was approved Monday is designated for a bank as well as some dine-in restaurants and office buildings.

In other action Monday, the city council

  • Approved the voluntary annexation of 31 lots within the Prairie Hills subdivision off Creasy Springs Road. Residents there petitioned for annexation to receive city representation and services. The neighborhood, once an island of single-family homes, has seen hundreds of homes built immediately to the east and north as part of the Vanderveen subdivision.
  • Authorized the acquisition and annexation of land to the west of Creasy Springs Road in order to address a long-standing sewer problem and to eliminate a treacherous curve between Obermiller Road and Bear Creek. Residents of the property have agreed to an undisclosed sale price, according to a letter written by the Foleys and addressed to Wendy Lister, property acquisition manager for the city.

Robert Hollis, an attorney and spokesman for Rampart Investments, said a bank was the only official buyer of any of the land on the development. Hollis said he could not yet reveal the name of the bank but that it could be disclosed at the July 16 council meeting when its two-acre tract of land is put before the council.

While Hollis said the bank was the only business that had officially shown interest in the development, he said he thinks the road improvements will greatly aid in speeding up the process of the development.

“Now that Providence Road is a certainty, I would think that things should happen very soon,” Hollis said.

Initially, the council raised hopes that this development would follow the city’s Neighborhood Marketplace concept, requiring a tenant anchor the city had hoped would be a large grocery store. Hollis said that there has always been a plan in place to include such a store in the Range Line portion of the development, but it would not be possible in this Providence portion. Upon hearing this explanation, the council agreed.

Representatives from both Hunters Gate and Vanderveen Crossing neighborhood associations spoke in support of the development, citing efforts the developers have made to keep these neighborhoods in mind.

“We have met with these gentlemen (the developers) several times. They have listened to what we have to say, and we like what they have to say,” said Rudy Williams, president of Hunters Gate neighborhood association.

Several council members, including Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku and Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala, also referenced the ongoing communication between the developers and the neighborhood associations. Janku complimented the developers on meeting with these associations even before any sort of plan was enacted.

“I commend the applicants in terms of their use of the neighborhood associations,” Skala said. “It makes our job much easier.”

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