COLUMBIA — After extended discussion, the Columbia City Council voted to consolidate two lots comprising a California developer's proposed site for a 10-story mixed-use apartment complex.
The bill passed 6-1, with Third Ward City Councilman Karl Skala offering the only dissent.
"I'm still very uncomfortable, and I still have to go to sleep tonight," Skala said. "I do not like this process that we have to base our decision-making on a hypothetical that we may or may not know is coming and to put all these eggs in one basket to depend on someone else making all of these decisions who are not elected officials and who don't represent some of the folks."
Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas, who voted immediately after Skala, said he supported the bill.
"If we don't like the processes that we have we should change the processes rather than attack individual projects," he said.
City Counselor Nancy Thompson said the council's decision here was purely a legal one.
"Zoning governs true use of the land. This is a subdivision code," Thompson said. "When it comes to denial of a request for a plat or replat, the council's decision-making needs to be based on how the lines are laid on paper."
Those "lines" were lot boundaries that separated the James Condominium and a small area behind it used for parking. The second, smaller plot is only 21 by 71 feet and does not qualify as a legal lot by city standards. The city told property owner and developer Eran Fields that in order to receive a permit, he'd have to go through the replatting process.
The council first read the replatting at a Feb. 1 meeting.
The new building, which will be called Rise Apartments, will be built on land occupied by the James, Quinton's Bar & Deli and Britches Clothing, as well as an empty lot where Mackenzie's Prime used to stand. The steel-framed building will have eight floors of residential units, retail space fronting Ninth Street and two floors of above-ground parking.
Fields previously told the Missourian that the building will have about 200 apartments. Floor plans for Rise Apartments show about 65 percent one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio apartments. The rest will be three- or four-bedroom apartments.
After Fields bought the property Jan. 12, he hired A & B Management to manage the property. The leases of more than 20 tenants in the building were terminated. Tenants were given until Feb. 29 to find a new place to live.
Before the vote, Fields called the City Council to express his sympathies for the tenants.
He was represented at the meeting by Matthew Kriete of Engineering Surveys and Services, the company that submitted Fields' preliminary site plans.
"My client is not interested in tabling this any further," Kriete told the council, adding that the project meets all guidelines of city subdivision ordinances.
Fields has said he hopes construction begins in April.
The James Condominium, along with the building containing Quinton's Bar & Deli, is part of Downtown Columbia's historic district, listed on the Department of the Interior's National Register of Historic Places.
Pat Fowler from the city's Historic Preservation Commission is working with with Fields to document the property and perform an architectural salvage after the building is demolished.
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