City Council denies rezoning request for student-housing complex

Feb 4, 2014

aspen heights
Aspen Heights student housing complex
Credit KOMU

Land northeast of Stadium Boulevard and the Cinnamon Hill Lane, Maguire Boulevard intersection will stay agricultural, at least for now, after a failed rezoning request.

The Columbia City Council voted 4-3 last night in opposition of New York City developers Park7 Group’s request to change the land from agricultural to a planned unit development, which would’ve been the site of an 899-bed luxury student-housing complex, The Avenue. 

Residents of the Shepard Hills subdivision and Timberhill Road on the land’s north side came out to the meeting in strong numbers, and spoke in opposition of the development. Many residents said it’s not that they don’t want the land to be developed, but rather they don’t want a luxury student housing complex in their backyards.

Community members are worried that building a large student-housing complex on the periphery of the city would make MU a commuter campus rather than a pedestrian campus. However, Park7 Group has previously requested to build The Avenue downtown within walking distance of campus, and that request was denied because downtown does not have enough electrical capacity to support a complex of its size.

Council member Michael Trapp of the 2nd ward called Columbia, “an immigrant town” with people moving here from all over, and said longtime Columbia residents have to understand there is a need for housing. Since building downtown is not an option for the Park7 Group, Trapp believes the land northeast of Stadium Boulevard and the Cinnamon Hill Lane, Maguire Boulevard intersection would have been the ideal location for a student-housing complex.

Residents fired back noting The University of Missouri’s stalled enrollment numbers, and said it is the university’s job to bring in more students based off of academic programs; fancy, luxury apartments are not a factor in the college decision-making process.  

Residents also raised concerns about their property values declining, the environmental repercussions of construction, and the overall charm of the area being lost.  Trapp said if Columbia does not create enough student housing, then “students are going to bleed into the traditional housing market.” Single-family homes would then house five to six college students at a time.

Council members Karl Skala, Fred Schmidt, Barbara Hoppe, and Ian Thomas voted against rezoning while Laura Nauser, Mayor Bob McDavid, and Michael Trapp voted for the rezoning.

Mayor Bob McDavid said, “It’s in an area that abuts major roadways and so it’s not going to stay a forest. I mean it’s just when you have a property fairly close to the university that abuts Stadium Boulevard and Highway 63 it’s really unrealistic to expect it to stay agricultural.”

The property’s sale to Park7 Group was contingent upon the rezoning approval, so now land-use is up to the original owner.