The Loop Community Improvement District is in the process of developing a master plan for the Business Loop Corridor. Our goal is to beautify and enhance the public space along the street in a way that will increase economic activity, improve the infrastructure, and create a street that is more than just a quick route across town. Much of the focus will be on changing the traffic patterns so that customers will have better access to businesses and on creating a more attractive entrance into Columbia from I-70.
We hosted our second public input meeting on November 1 and it gave our consulting team the opportunity to seek input on their proposals.
Much of the work is focused on creating focal points along the street–either for beautification projects (like landscaping or public art), community gathering places, or for welcoming gateways into Columbia. Other ideas addressed concerns about creating safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists, managing flooding and stormwater, and creating a coherent graphic identity for the street.
Below are the presentation boards from the meeting and you may notice that some of these ideas involve private property. While our mission is to improve the public space, we’d also like to encourage private property owners and businesses to get creative about what they can do as well. The ideas presented here regarding landscaping, public art, and development projects are suggestions and, in fact, can be applied to any number of properties. Again, they are here to encourage your creativity.
We also want to encourage property owners to take advantage of key changes to the zoning code which allows for new uses on the street like urban agriculture or artisan industries (small-scale fabrication, preparation, or production of arts, crafts, foods, and beverages such as welding, sculpting, carpentry, and local, small-batch bakeries, candy shops, cheese shops, craft breweries, and micro-distilleries).
One idea is to transform an unused surface level parking into a gathering place complete with picnic tables, lawn games, a stage, a place for beer taps, and parking bays for food trucks.
Our consulting team has recommended improving the intersections at Garth and at Rangeline with roundabouts. We realize that the MODOT required medians make access to businesses difficult so roundabouts will allow for easy u-turns. They will also keep traffic flowing, prevent backups at traffic lights, and will stop drivers from cutting through people’s parking lots. As an added benefit, the center of the roundabout can be beautified with native plants and art installations.
Some properties may be impacted by these roundabouts, although alterations to the roundabout design can be made as the process continues. This is a ten-year plan and nothing will happen overnight. Our goal is a deliberative process done in cooperation with property owners and businesses. We’ve spoken with many of you about this and we encourage others to contact us to offer their input. Drop me a line at [email protected] and we would be happy to sit down with you and give you an overview of the proposals.
We’ll also be posting updates on our Loop Corridor Facebook page. Please follow us to keep up with our progress.
A big thanks to everyone who has offered comments so far. Not only has the input been invaluable, it’s encouraging to see so many people so excited about this project. We’re looking forward to creating a welcoming, attractive street, and economically vital street.