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Columbia City Council to vote on downtown development agreements

The Columbia City Council is considering three separate development agreements that would give the developers clearance to work on downtown housing structures. 

The proposed structures would provide housing for more than 1,300 new people in the downtown area. In exchange, the developers would contribute to infrastructure costs and take on projects to connect downtown sewer lines to Columbia’s main line.

The three developers are the Opus Development Company, American Campus Communities, and Collegiate Housing Partners.

Columbia’s third ward city councilman Karl Skala said there are two main issues with passing the agreements. The first is the expedited process that the projects would require. The second is the developers not contributing enough of the $6.75 million bill the sewer projects would require.

“I’m not suggesting that they have to pay the whole bill," Skala said. "I’m not suggesting that they even have to pay half of it, but I’m suggesting that they need to approach at least half of it.”

Skala said another issue that arises from the proposed agreements is the city’s existing oversaturation of student housing downtown. He expects opposition from the public on the agreements.

Columbia Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said the big issue is how the community can fund infrastructure as a whole.

“Right now obviously the issue is about $20 million worth of infrastructure that is needed to support some of this what I would call high-density residential that is being proposed right now,” St. Romaine said.

St. Romaine hopes these proposed agreements will provide future examples of how to fund electric, sewer and infrastructure projects.

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