Proposed student housing apartment complex raise concerns with city staff

City planners are worried about parking problems that would come up

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A Columbia Parks and Recreation commission expected to vote Thursday night on if a proposed eight story student housing complex near the University of Missouri campus will affect the MKT trail. Developers want to build the complex at Fifth Street and Conley Avenue.

You may remember the original plan was to tear down the Niedermeyer building downtown and build the structure on that site. But a local investor bought the Niedermeyer and decided to renovate it.

There are some major questions city staff haven't gotten and answer on. Things like storm water requirements and traffic impact are some of them. But the biggest question they have is where are all of the cars going to be parked.

The current site for the apartment complex is already filled with student housing. The plan is to tear down these houses and build the apartments to house about 350 people. But before that happens, the city says they have a make or break problem.

"Roughly 42-percent of the parking from what we calculated as being provided on site, while they were requesting 115 as minimum, the plan shows 120," Department of Planning and Development manager Pat Zenner explains.

City codes require about 280 parking spots. City planners believe the developers are going to try to and persuade some students that a car is not necessary. They say everything they've seen indicates students will still bring their vehicles. Planners tell ABC 17 News that's the scenario they have to plan for. This is the most critical element of the entire project.

City council has taken notice of the potential problems too. They're the ones to make the ultimate decision. But from everything planners have studied, they're worried.

"Based on historical results of other projects to where we've talked about college housing that doesn't provide any parking at all or provide minimal amount of it, the planning and zoning commission is concerned," Zenner says.

City officials say they need to get these answers from the developers soon. They say they can shut the project down if they don't get those answers.

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