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Why city council members rejected student housing complex in east Columbia

Some people are wondering why another Columbia development has been rejected.

Monday night, a city council vote denied the building of a large student housing complex in east Columbia.

This comes only a few weeks after some council members tried to stop development a development downtown. City council members considered passing a ban that would stop demolition and development for six months of certain buildings downtown including Shakespeare’s Pizza.

And this time last year, the council battled with OPUS for several months before allowing it to start construction on a student housing complex downtown.

Fifth Ward City Councilwoman Laura Nauser was the only person on the council to vote in favor of Park 7 Group’s “The Avenue at Columbia” development proposal.

“We’re eventually gonna start, if we haven’t already, start to get a bad reputation that we’re not welcoming of the very economic driver of our community that helps our community thrive,” Nauser said.

The University of Missouri predicts it will enroll 38,000 students by 2019, more than 3,000 students than were enrolled at the beginning of this school year.

“If we can’t build new student complexes for them to live, then they’re gonna be coming to your neighborhood soon,” Nauser said.

Both the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission and the Shepard Hills Improvement Association voted in favor of the complex that would have been built near Stadium and Highway 63. But that was not enough for it to pass the city council vote.

Second Ward City Councilman Michael Trapp voted in favor of the development when it came to the council in 2013. But this time, after Park 7 Group made several adjustments to its proposal to satisfy the community, he voted against it.

“In general we lack affordable housing,” Trapp said. “And students are also, there’s a concern about increasing student loan debt, and do we unnecessarily need to add that to that burden? So I would like to see more lower cost options brought forward.”

Trapp said most council members voted against the development because the proposed complex was not affordable student housing, it is not a walkable distance from campus and there were still several concerns from the neighborhood. Some residents in the Shepard Hills neighborhood said they did not want the development to pass because of the size of the project, and think it would bring an increase of crime and traffic to the area.

Abc 17 News talked to the property owner to see what his plans are moving forward for the property, but he did not have a comment.

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