Developer faces tough crowd in meeting to discuss N. Main housing plan

Published: Jan. 30, 2013 at 3:13 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2013 at 3:13 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia City Council work sessions don't normally draw crowds like the one that showed up Tuesday night.

It was proof that a proposal to build low income apartments in the 3700 block of North Main has a lot of people in the surrounding area stirred up.

The apartment complex would be a three-story gated complex next door to the North Main Plaza. The project's Greenville-based developer, Creative Builders, says it features amenities not usually associated with "assisted income" units. They include a laundry, fitness and computer rooms.

But the development of as many as 56 apartments has not been cleared by city leaders, and there is plenty of opposition -- some of it from local business owners and the Hyatt Park-Keenan Terrace Neighborhood Association.

Among their objections, they say the project flies in the face of a 2005 Master Plan, which envisioned retail and restaurants along North Main.

"Our master plan, especially on the Main Street sector, calls for mixed-use, but calls for retail also," said Tommy Burkett of the North Columbia Business Association.

"When you congregate a certain population, you just don't get anybody else," said Lyman Munson, an opponent of the plan. "People are scared."

"Our membership is 100 percent against it," said Burkett. "Not only our membership -- the North Columbia Business Association -- but the Eau Claire Community Council that represents all the residents in this area. They have had nothing but negative thoughts about it also."

About 40 speakers signed up to sound off on the proposal, and the council meeting ran well into the evening.

In the end, City Council voted to ask the Columbia Empowerment Zone to reconsider its plan for the housing plan and explore options to add new commercial and/or retail development to the plan.

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