When Dr. Rod Casey, director of the Theological Education Initiative (TEI), first came to Columbia, he quickly fell in love with the trail systems,...
Over the past few months, I’ve written exclusive online pieces for CBT celebrating creative ways cities have revitalized areas, added public gathering spaces, and enhanced economic vitality, but this time I’m turning my attention to our city.
The Loop recently approved a corridor improvement plan for the Business Loop focused on beautification, traffic management and access, pedestrian and bike infrastructure, public gathering spaces, and more. This approval allows us to now focus on our 10-year vision for this project.
Imagine the new corridor with us. You’ll see more gathering places from public spaces to shaded restaurant patios, utility lines hidden underground, and sidewalks running the length of the street buffered by attractive landscaping. Entryways off I-70 will be lined with native flowers, way-finding, and public art that welcome visitors to Columbia and The Loop.
A lookalike commercial strip in Golden, Colorado underwent a similar transformation and the results were impressive. Sales tax revenues along the corridor increased 60 percent in the six years after the improvements were implemented, and it became the only area in the city reporting continued sales growth in the face of a metro-wide economic slowdown. In addition, over 75,000-square-feet of new retail and office space has been built in the corridor since the improvements. Quite a compelling argument for investing in a street.
Because the Business Loop is a MoDOT road with city utilities and other public infrastructure, we are working within their schedules to make many of the desired changes. However, we have a list of projects we can tackle in the first year like a pop-up festival and graphic identity projects that will add immediate excitement to the street.
The Business Loop is a stronger commercial corridor than many people realize, and if we start making visible investments in the street, we can ramp up this commercial activity. There are, after all, a number of schools and several large employment centers in the nearby area. Those people need a place to grab coffee, eat lunch, and meet friends.
Please take a look at our ideas on our website. While you’re there, you can sign-up for our newsletter, and we’ll keep you in the loop!
Carrie Gartner is the executive director of The Loop. She blogs about cities and urban planning for CBT.