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New Columbia Master Plan

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Wow... this would be awesome. Mayor Bob wants to hire Andres Duany and his firm to come back to Columbia. They'd be hired to draft a comprehensive master plan for the city, which would "connect the dots" of various urban redevelopment projects that are going on all over the city, among other things. Check it out...

Read the article at The State.

Graphic illustrating various projects. (PDF)

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Where do I begin....

What Andres Duany is seeking to do is very important and critical to Columbia truly creating the urban core environment that it seeks. It's good to see Mayor Bob finally sees the light on this as well.

Message for Bob Coble (and the State newspaper): See Bob, this is what you need to be doing as mayor, getting the players around the table and coordinating the city's development. Do you really want to be distracted from that by worrying about a sewer lift that broke or the budget figures like a city manager or strong mayorwould? No! concentrate on leading and empowering a coordinated vision. Now let's see how well you can get the city council to buy into your and Andres' plan. That will be the test of how well you do your job. If you can't do that, then you can forget about USC, and all the other players getting onboard. How can you expect to get them onboard if the city itself doesn't buy in?

Message for Bob Coble and the City Council: This development would be more encouraging if it weren't for the fact that we have been here before and nothing happened. Remember back in the mid-90's when you hired a firm to do much of what Andres Duany is proposing to do? They did the first phase, and me along with a lot of other folks from around the city reviewed it and had input. They emphasised the need for linkages between Main St, North Main, the Vista, Five Points and other areas to each other, and the outlying neighborhhoods. They proposed new residential and green space to link up these areas that are largely separated from each other by the 6 and 8 lanes streets that run throughout the city core. They proposed turning the abandoned train tracks between the Earlewood and Elmwood neighborhoods and Findley park into a trail with new housing along it. They proposed expanding the old Eau Claire City Hall area into a commercial core for the entire area. Primarily, new buildings that would mesh well with the great architecture of the E.C. City Hall.

Then what did you do? You canceled their contract before they even finished the second phase of the plan (that would refect the input given on the first plan). The money and time on the first phase was simply wasted and none of the great ideas that they have been put in place.

Is that going to happen again?

Columbia's development has always been without any forethought on how the pieces fit together. Synergy between projects is seldom created because of this.

Examples:

*The Koger Center has no restaurants/bars/ or retail of any kind within walking distance. Everyone gets dinner on the way in or the way out primarily in the SUBURBS.

*The Marionette Theatre is located in complete isolation from anything, even the Riverfront park is a bit of a walk (across asphalt). Why wasn't is placed where an ice cream shop or cafe would extend the experience?

*Assembly Street presents a huge barrier between the Main Street corridor and the Vista, no linkage, no meshing together.

*Retail store fronts continue to be demolished along Main Street and replaced with lifeless, office building lobbies or parking lots or garages. The result has been a new "streetscaping" every few years to try to bring walking traffic back. Sorry, it's not going to work this time either. Put retail on the first floor and residential above, and not just in one spot here and there, connect them together.

*Hampton and Taylor streets are one-way, multi-lane, "get out of here fast"-type highways that divide the vista into several isolated areas. The entire 6 and 8 lane street grid already does that too much.

One last comment: See all thoses items listed in the graphic? About 18 of them ? There are too many! Finish the ones that have already started, and don't start the ones that haven't. Columbia has always tried to keep so many balls in the air that that almost all of them get dropped. You can't do everything at once. Make the hard decisions and say NO to some of these. At least NO for now. Otherwise, everything that is attempted will suffer. The stakeholders of each one will want to see progress or they will lose faith in it.

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I drafted a letter to Mayor Bob and Duany this morning and sent it off.

Vic, I agree with what you're saying. I do think though, that if DPZ does a comprehensive plan for the city, we'll be better equipped to handle multiple projects developing at the same time. Still, there needs to be some caution.

Also... I've said this before, but I'll say it again... we need a true arts district! As I've pointed out, The Vista is no longer a viable option for artists and has transitioned from an arts district to an entertainment district. I was telling Matt the other day... it's more like Ybor City in Tampa (on a somewhat smaller scale, of course) than like NoDa in Charlotte. This is a good thing for the city, but the artistic community is busted up all over the place -- not necessarily a bad thing, but it'd be nice to have a *place* and Columbia really needs a creative neighborhood.

The strengths of The Vista, 5 Points, Devine Street and the future Bull St. Neighborhood are their clearly defined personalities. Why not make Olympia and the South of Blossom area (particularly along the Assembly corridor to Rosewood) into an arts district. There's plenty of abandoned warehouse/light industrial space there in the east side of Olympia and a number of lots that will need to be filled in -- especially once the railroad is rerouted. It could extend from the center of Olympia on down to Assembly St. and then down Assembly from Olympia to Cap. City Stadium and even down as far as the fairgrounds -- linking Olympia to the Rosewood Hills neighborhood. I think the redevelopment of the Olympia and Granby Mills is awesome, but I'm worried that it's going to lead to the area's "blandification". The next thing they should do, if they can get Gallery 701 away from Jack G., is call in Artspace Projects and have them redevelop it into an art/music space with lofts -- the real artist kind, not the luxury kind. Now I'm on a soapbox... :)

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post-615-1118948162_thumb.jpg

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Wow... this would be awesome. Mayor Bob wants to hire Andres Duany and his firm to come back to Columbia. They'd be hired to draft a comprehensive master plan for the city, which would "connect the dots" of various urban redevelopment projects that are going on all over the city, among other things. Check it out...

Read the article at The State.

Graphic illustrating various projects. (PDF)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

THis is excellent news for Columbia if the study is actually carried out and implemented properly by all involved. The Mayor is correct that all of the major private sector players need to be integrated into this process also. That's a key point to success. The city needs to be in the business of encouraging, directing, and monitoring development, not creating developments themselves.

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A master plan that the city will stick to is very important. It looks good to me. I guess we will see how it all plays out.

I agree with what was said about Main St. and the investment in general. There is nothing that resemebles a plan for Columbia. Its all rather haphazard, with the exception of the Vista. The city should use the Vista's success and try to emulate, but not duplicate, it else where.

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I just read that they are going to replace Devine St's tree canpy this winter. What the hell!? That is Devine St's most endearing feature! I can't believe they would tear them down.

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I did not know that Columbia has almost TWENTY developments proposed or underway presently! It seems that the baseball stadium was left out though; it wasn't specifically mentioned in the Vista section. When I saw the article, one of the things that did come to mind was, "Can Columbia handle all of this at the same time?" This isn't just a few buildings/towers going up and some park space being developed; we're talking major, long-term projects here, the biggest of which I would assume are the research campus, the Bull Street property, and CanalSide (which seems to have been shelved for the time being???). To have as many projects as these going on relatively around the same time would be a major task for just about any "mini"/mid-major city in the country. I think that it is extremely important that a sense of connectivity is created among these three, especially since they will be located in/close to downtown. I also think the city should prioritize these projects so as to not get lost in the shuffle. This is definitely not to say that another project should be begun until one is completed, but when it comes to potential conflicts, prioritization could help.

Vicupstate, I hope you sent your concerns to Mayor Coble and city council as well.

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New developments on the master plan front.... this is great news. It sounds like the Chamber of Commerce will spearhead the plan. Duany is apparently still being considered -- I think it would be great if he were to come here and collaborate with a team of local planners.

Here's the story from The State. It sounds like work may begin soon!

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That is very exciting news - re: the other threads wondering what it would take to catapult Columbia into the next tier of cities - something like this. As Portland, Asheville, Boulder, Madison have demonstrated - is that by building a quality city where people would want to live in, this will attract businesses.

Creating a unique environment in Columbia will make the city's name a 'buzz word' & people who already have some small capitol will move there & make things happen. I had a friend that moved out of Atlanta to start an internet business in Asheville years ago, she built it from just herself employing like minded people that moved to Asheville just to be a part of the city & it spawned other businesses. Of course she has since sold her business & is now in another job market there.

What this really reminds me is - it doesn't take a mega-corporation to move their headquarters to Columbia to make things happen. I'm not aware of any major corporate relocations to Asheville, that city's success has been based on individual people's success.

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New developments on the master plan front.... this is great news. It sounds like the Chamber of Commerce will spearhead the plan. Duany is apparently still being considered -- I think it would be great if he were to come here and collaborate with a team of local planners.

Here's the story from The State. It sounds like work may begin soon!

A most promising development. This type of coordination and planning is much needed. Let's hope it comes about.

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I think it needs more exposure, especially with everything going on right now. If anything, it should be available online.

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So basically, two years have gone by and nothing further has come to light on this? Sounds like history is repeating itself, (refer to most most previous post of June 2005).

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I sure hope it's not an issue of proposing some plan, then hearing nothing about it later on down the road (which isn't unique to Columbia at all).

By the way Vic, when are you making the move? :)

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I know that the city is working on its comprehensive plan (not the same as a master plan). Anyone from Cola want to email council (or planning) and find out?

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Here's a thought: why doesn't the city hire Sasaki to do the masterplan instead? Not discounting Duany's group, as they've done some great work. But since Sasaki will be spearheading the biggest urban (re)development project in the city already in the form of Innovista, it would make sense for them to just go ahead and tackle downtown as a whole; it would be a greater possibility that everything would blend together seamlessly.

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I dont see why the city doesnt just do its own master plan. They have staff dont they? Hire a consultant to do the spiffy rendings and graphics and what not and just get things thing moving.

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I dont see why the city doesnt just do its own master plan. They have staff dont they? Hire a consultant to do the spiffy rendings and graphics and what not and just get things thing moving.

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