Businesses in downtown Columbia have tried three times since the early 1990’s to put this project together. For the Downtown Community Improvement District, it may be the third time that is the charm.
The CID is moving forward on a fundraising plan to help pay for the installations of gateways and art installations across downtown Columbia.
The St. Louis consulting firm Arcturis designed the master plan. Public meetings and forums were held to gather input, and the plan helps provide a vision for what downtown business owners are looking for.
“It was generally felt by business owners and civic leaders that identifying downtown Columbia for out-of-town visitors has always been a challenge,” Arcturis Director of Planning Russ Volmert said.
The gateways, which would be at the corners of Broadway and Providence, Broadway and Waugh, 10th and Ash, and 9th and Elm, would provide an official welcome and entrance into downtown Columbia. It would also provide more than just a pretty entrance.
“There’s a lot of pedestrian safety issues that we have now,” downtown business owner and gateway committee member Christina Kelley said. “East and West gateways will really help with that. It will act as traffic calming devices and also provide safe havens for pedestrians to cross.”
Along with the entrances, the plan includes 12 installations called “hub stories” across downtown that would be theme-based on the venues nearby. These hub stories and the gateways would all feature local artists’ work, which was a key for Kelley.
“We are a community that is known for our art,” she said. “We are a community known for our artists. Having the component was important to me. There are many elements that can bring local artists and regional artists into the project.”
The first focus for the CID will be the 12 smaller installations, and each one would cost $15,000 to install. The longer term goal of the project is the east and west gateways. They will cost nearly one million dollars. It still has not been determined how much of the money for this project, if any, will come from city funds, but the CID plans to apply for multiple grants for the project.