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City Council to consider suspending demolition permits in downtown Columbia

Ryan Famuliner

The Columbia City Council is considering an ordinance that would put a temporary abeyance on demolition permits in downtown Columbia. 

This comes after a petition to demolish the oldest building in downtown Columbia, to possibly make way for high-rise student housing. Council Member Barbara Hoppe introduced the ordinance, that would allow the council six months or less to consider making changes to the C-2 zoning standards. She says the petition to demolish the 175-year-old Niedermeyer building at 10th and Cherry — which has that zoning classification — has spurred the urgency of the discussion.

“But there’s a lot of potential development coming online." Hoppe said.  "There’s been a concern whether our present C-2 zoning really addresses all the parameters that need to be addressed."

City development services manager Pat Zenner describes C-2 zoning as “wide open” with no height restrictions or parking requirements for new developments. He says the historic preservation commission has no power to stop a demolition in that classification. But, Zenner says his office cannot approve the demolition permit because utilities are still connected, and there are currently tenants in the Niedermeyer building with no plans for them to move out until June or July, to his knowledge.

Zenner says a St. Louis-area firm has contacted his office with questions about developing a 5 to 15 story housing complex on the site, which could match Paquin Tower as the tallest building in Columbia. But he says no formal proposals have been submitted.

The council is scheduled to vote on the abeyance on January 7.

Ryan Famuliner joined KBIA in February 2011. Ryan previously worked as a general assignment reporter and videographer at WNDU-TV in South Bend, Ind. and as a reporter and anchor at the Missourinet radio network in Jefferson City, MO. He’s reported nationally on NPR and WNYC’s The Takeaway.
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