After two years of preparation, the Forum Development Group will submit the master plan for its commercial development on the west side of U.S. 63, at the new Gans Road overpass, later this month.
Forum Development Group, headed by Jose and Jay Lindner, a father-son team, designed the 220-acre mixed-use development, known as Discovery, on the site of the former Philips Farm, annexed by the city in March 2004.
The development plans feature condominiums, offices, retail space and a hotel and convention center. The plans include more than 500 residential units and over one million square feet of office and retail space. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2009, Forum Executive Vice President Jay Lindner said.
Forum will be seeking the city’s approval for the project at a time of intense development of Columbia’s southern gateway at U.S. 63.
Two life science companies, ABC Labs and MU’s Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (RADIL), have recently moved to MU’s research park, Discovery Ridge, located just across the highway from the proposed Discovery development. The university continues to aggressively market the 114-acre research park to attract more tenants.
Construction of the $7.9 million Gans Road overpass began in November 2007 and is scheduled to be completed between October and December. Discovery would be built around the new Discovery Parkway, an extension of Gans Road west of the new overpass. In addition, the city’s nearby connecting road system is also under construction, with improvements being made to Ponderosa Street and Lenoir Street. The city and county, in their long-range plans, also intend to extend Gans Road from Providence Road all the way to U.S. 63.
Another development on Gans Road is Columbia’s first Catholic high school, to be located at the southwestern corner of the Discovery site and enroll about 400 students. The Catholic Diocese submitted development plans to the city this summer.
Bordering the west and south of Discovery is the new regional park, to comprise A. Perry Philips Park and the Gans Creek Recreation area. One of the park’s attractions, Bristol Lake, opened to the public this summer and is adjacent to the west side of the Discovery site. The combined 460-acre park is currently being developed; plans call for baseball and soccer fields in the southern tract, as well as walking and biking trails.
Elvin Sapp’s Bristol Lake residential development is also being built nearby and includes lots for high-end homes and villas. But few have been built since the project started.
Despite the recent downturn in Columbia’s economy, Lindner said the recent projects in the area, namely the interchange and the research park, would put the development in an “exciting” location.
“We truly believe that we have found the perfect location for this type of development,” Lindner said in a statement.
He also said the Bristol Lake development will add nearby consumers.
“Obviously we want to see more houses nearby,” Lindner said. “The owner, we know, will do a first-class development, and he’ll be a great neighbor to have.”
Lindner also hopes to connect the project to the city park and take full advantage of the surrounding environment.
“The development will include walking trails that tie into the city park, water features that play into Phillips Lake and green space that is uncommon for a project of this scale,” he said.
But Discovery Ridge, the site of ABC Labs’ new headquarters, was the main attraction to the site.
“We feel Discovery Ridge will provide a lot of demand for the project there,” Lindner said. “Columbia, with its regional draw, and being right on 63 will be very attractive.”
One of Lindner’s hopes for the project is to provide extra office space for companies based in Discovery Ridge. From looking at other research parks around the country, Lindner said he found that they usually require more office space than they have available, and the interchange will provide excellent access from the research park to Discovery.
“Obviously Discovery Ridge will be a big anchor for the whole region,” Lindner said. “We’ve got a good working relationship with the university, and if people can’t fit into the park for one reason or another, we’re certainly there to help out.”
Discovery Ridge director Rick Finholt has been in contact with Forum Development about Discovery and said providing extra office space would be complimentary to the research park.
“Our park is going to be more high-tech research; their’s is a very high end, mixed-use development nearby,” he said. “You put all that together on Route 63; I think that will make it the perfect place for a company to move in.”
But many Columbia residents have not been as enthusiastic about the prospects of developments in the area. At the request of Elvin Sapp, who had plans for developing the area, the Columbia City Council voted to annex Philips Farm, a 528-acre tract of land, which includes the Discovery site, in March 2004 amid widespread concern about the environmental impact of future development on the site. The project is near Gans Creek and Clear Creek, which flow into Bonne Femme Creek, and there was community opposition to building more impervious surfaces in the area. Many were worried development of the former Philips Farm would damage the watershed, which flows through Rock Bridge State Park, and turn it into another Hinkson Creek, which has been designated an impaired waterway.
Development has been slow since then, as the city council made Sapp adhere to strict environmental guidelines, including construction and maintenance of a water quality protection system. In January 2007, Sapp sold 220 acres to Lindner, operating as Bristol Lake Investments. Lindner said his company had been looking at a development in the area since mid-2006, the same time the University of Missouri-Columbia approved its master plan for Discovery Ridge.
This year, after a July concept review of the project by Planning and Development found no major problems with the plans, Lindner expects the project to move forward, but doesn’t see construction beginning for at least a year.
“We expect we’ll start some smaller retail and office buildings in the second half of 2009,” Lindner said. “We’re not expecting any problems. We’re putting in a quality development and doing everything to make sure the environment is protected.”
Forum Development Group projects in Columbia
- The Broadway Bluffs: Located at the entrance and exit to the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Broadway and U.S. 63., the Bluffs include Houlihan’s, Chipotle and Starbucks among other tenants.
- The Broadway Shops: Adjacent to the Broadway Bluffs, tenants include Applebee’s, Hollywood Video and Commerce Bank.
- The Forum Shopping Center: Forum Development Group’s first Columbia Development, located at Forum Boulevard and Stadium, is home to Schnucks supermarket and other retailers.
- Nifong Shopping Center: Located at Nifong and Providence, the shopping center is home to a Gerbes, Tequila Mexican Restaurant and Kirlin’s Hallmark.
The farms, fields and scattered woodlands along U.S. 63 at the city’s southeastern corner are being developed into a multi-use gateway to Columbia, thanks in large part to the construction of the Gans Creek interchange.
The interchange will open to traffic this fall, and improvements on the connecting streets are under way. In addition, Boone County has plans to extend Gans Road all the way from Providence Road to U.S. 63.
To the immediate west is Forum Development Group’s Discovery Project, a 225-acre mixed-use development proposal featuring condos, offices, retail stores and a hotel.
Across the overpass to the east is Discovery Ridge, MU’s research park, which has recently seen two life science companies, ABC Labs and the university’s Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, move in.
To the west of Discovery is Columbia’s new regional park, made up of the recently named A. Perry Philips Park and Gans Creek Recreation Area. Bristol Lake, which borders the western half of the Discovery site recently opened to the public this summer.
In between Gans Road and Bristol Lake is the proposed site for the city’s first Catholic High School, which submitted development plans to the city this summer.
And across the lake from Discovery is Elvin Sapp’s Bristol Lake residential development, which has lots available for upscale homes and villas.
It all adds up to what Forum’s Jay Lindner calls a “perfect location.”
Total acreage: 225
Estimated cost: $175 million
Percent residential: 20
Percent office: 20
Percent commercial: 60
Square footage: 1,000,000
City Council votes to annex the 528-acre Philips Farm property.
Elvin Sapp, who bought the Phillips Farm with plans to build residential and commercial developments, donates Bristol Lake to the city for a public park.
Missouri Department of Transportation receives proposed Gans Road interchange project.
MoDOT receives $4 million federal grant for interchange project.
UM System Board of Curators designates MU’s South Farm complex as a research park.
MU names area on South farm Discovery Ridge Research Park.
University approves 114-acre master plan for Discovery Ridge.
ABC Labs announces intention to relocate its headquarters and pharmaceutical labs to Discovery Ridge.
Forum Development Group purchases 220 acres of Philips tract from Elvin Sapp.
MoDOT lets Gans Road interchange project out for bid.
Emery Sapp & Sons wins bid for Gans interchange construction.
Construction on interchange begins.