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Council solicits public opinion on Providence and Broadway development

The Columbia City Council asked the public what they wanted to see at one of the town’s busiest corners.

Third Ward City Councilman Karl Skala asked for the hearing as a “public trust” exercise, he said at Monday night’s city council meeting.

Leaders took no action on the future of Providence Road and Broadway.

For several years, the city has debated the use of Providence Road and Broadway in downtown Columbia. The owner of the land, Mark Stevenson, has twice tried to bring CVS to town to develop on the land, but the council has twice rejected it.

The city council turned down CVS’ last plan in April, after the plans failed to meet some parts of the new downtown zoning rules, such as the lack of a useful second floor and accessible entrance on Broadway.

Several people at Monday’s meeting entertained the idea of extending Flat Branch Park north to the corner.

Brent Gardner, head of the Downtown Leadership Council, suggested that giving Stevenson another option for his land use – in this case, the City of Columbia- would benefit him. A park on that land, which currently features the historic Ice House, would be an attractive entrance to downtown Columbia, Gardner argued.

Nick Peckham, an architect and member of the DLC, said the corner could be “more of a masterpiece rather than an afterthought” if the right thing moves in.

However, some felt the hearing was an overreach by the government. Since Stevenson and CVS had a contract for the land, the two parties should work with the city to make an acceptable plan for the pharmacy to build.

“They have people who, tentatively, want to build a project there to meet with the codes and regulations that you have established,” resident Austin Tipton said at the meeting. “And we should not try to interfere and have public hearings as to what should go there at this point in time.”

Tipton said if CVS decided to leave the deal, the city should revisit the topic.

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