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New deal: city and developer could avoid lawsuit

A new deal could keep the city of Columbia out of the courtroom over downtown development.

The Opus Group agreed to withdraw their threat of a lawsuit against the city if city council votes to rescind the current development agreement with the company and instead approve a new agreement.

First Ward councilwoman Ginny Chadwick is pushing for the proposal to get on to the May 5 agenda.

It would rescind the original proposal that allowed Opus to build a housing complex on Locust Street between 7th and 8th Streets. Instead, it would approve a new plan to allow the group to build.

The new development agreement would have Opus pay $450,000 towards water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

The building plan also looks a little different – with amenities and community spaces moved to the street-level floor.

In return, the city would approve the plan and allow for construction.

The development group threatened to sue the city after a proposal garnered more than 3,000 signatures asking council to rescind approval of the building.

Chadwick said she actually thinks the Opus plan is a good one – but planned to rescind the approval because she said it’s what the people what.

She told ABC 17 News she heard over and over from her constituents that they were against the building because it was decided by council in a rushed manner without proper due diligence.

But she said this agreement would be the best case scenario for a commitment that was already decided.

“When you think about how many people are showering, how many people are doing laundry, how many are going to the bathroom, and you look at that and you look at the number of beds equals the number of taxing on our infrastructure…this evens out because for each individual they’re giving $1700 towards infrastructure,” Chadwick said.

Joe Downs with Opus seemed to agree with Chadwick saying, “This approach could allow us to move forward and we will work together to support this process. Opus is interested in proceeding with the project, not needless litigation.”

The new plan for the Opus development would contribute just shy of one million dollars towards infrastructure needs.

Chadwick said this building would contribute more money per bed than any other proposed downtown complex right now.

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