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Park and shop: City garage to have it all

The city of Columbia has selected a site for its newest downtown parking garage, but itís still trying to find the best way to use the chosen land south of Walnut Street between Fifth and Sixth streets across from the post office.

Lora Wegman graphic

At its Dec. 17 meeting, the Columbia City Council voted to hire Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Walker Parking Consultants to develop conceptual designs for the garage.

The city spent $16,500 for the consultant to design the first phase of the project, which includes examining four options for the configuration of the structure.

The parking garage will be a multi-level facility with the first floor occupied by retail space, an idea consultant Sasaki Associates recommended for the downtown master plan.

The parking consultant will look at how to fit the parking garage on the site, which street the retail space should front and whether the facility will include an underground parking facility for 50 Columbia Police Department vehicles. The site now holds metered parking spaces and reserved spaces for police department vehicles.

Along with conceptual designs, the consultant will bring back cost estimates for each of the options in a few months along with how many spaces each option allows.

City Manager Bill Watkins said the city hopes to complete the facility in 2010, in concert with the opening of the city hall expansion and the renovated Daniel Boone Building.

"We need to move this ahead in conjunction with the new city hall project," Watkins told council members Dec. 17. "As we bring employees back downtown, we will need more parking."

Watkins said the city looked at adding levels onto its existing garage at Seventh and Walnut streets, but it costs too much and adds too few spaces. According the cityís 2008 capital improvement plan, an additional level on the parking garage would have added 125 spaces and cost $1.5 million. According to the plan, the new garage will add about 400 spaces, and one floor of retail space and cost $13.7 million.

Two of the options the consultant will design propose that the garage use land now occupied by a Commerce Bank branch. According to a memo to the city council, Public Works Department Interim Director Mary Ellen Lea said once the first phase of design is completed, the four options will be discussed with the stakeholders in the area before the consultant presents the options to the city council.

The parking lot will be the cityís fifth off-street parking garage and the newest since the city built the garage at Sixth and Cherry streets in 1998. In addition to that garage, the city now operates garages at Tenth and Cherry streets, Eighth and Cherry streets, and Seventh and Walnut streets.

Reach Kat Hughes at (573) 815-1713 or




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