Target’s expansion plan gets OK, but not on open space variance

Friday, July 20, 2007 | 4:20 p.m. CDT; updated 3:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The concrete and grass are now the hot topics in the plan to expand Target at Columbia Mall

The 26,810-square-foot addition to Target will extend into the parking lot in front of the current store on the mall’s west side. When that change is combined with the already-approved Dillard’s expansion, more parking will be needed at the mall, said Mark Farnen, a consultant speaking for General Growth Properties, the mall’s management firm.

To accommodate the extra parking, the plan calls for building a lot over the current stormwater detention pond using a pervious pavement that has not yet been used in Missouri. The pavement allows water to pass through the surface to storage locations below its surface, serving the same pollutant filtration function as soil.

However, the parking lot would reduce open space at the mall from 13.5 percent of the site to only 9.6 percent, a change that would require permission to break current zoning regulations.

Target’s development plan went before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night for approval. Several commissioners were impressed with the pervious pavement but found the lack of open space in the plan troubling, especially in light of empty parking spaces usually found around the mall.

“What we’re offsetting from the Target expansion is unused parking spaces,” Doug Wheeler said about the proposal. He was also concerned that the plan would set a precedent for less open space in commercial development.

Helen Anthony said that if the parking to be built over the stormwater pond wasn’t needed to reach minimum parking requirements, she would rather see the space stay green.

As a result, the commission voted to recommend the approval of the overall development plan, with the exception of the open space variance. City Council will get the recommendations and vote on the matter on Aug. 20.

Katie Essing, senior general manager of Columbia Mall, said that the mall will continue to pursue the variance at the council meeting.

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