Columbia projects in the works

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Columbia will be experiencing a wide variety of revitalization projects over the next few years, including construction of several residential complexes near Old State Route 3 and Columbia Lakes Drive, improvements to Quarry Road and the Columbia Streetscape project on Main Street.

Chris Smith, Columbia’s city engineer and director of public works, outlined some of what Columbia residents can expect in the coming months and years during a Columbia Chamber of Commerce meeting last Wednesday.

After outlining the expected timetable for the Main Street Streetscape project, Smith was asked about what citizens can expect in regard to Quarry Road, a topic that has some residents concerned about safety with the August opening of the new Immaculate Conception School next to the church on Palmer Road.

In June 2018, a Columbia City Council Committee of the Whole heard public comments over the influx of traffic when ICS opens. 

At the time, Smith reported that a roundabout was planned, but had not yet been funded or guaranteed for 2019.

While Smith was unable to comment on the roundabout at last week’s Chamber meeting, he was able to state that “improvements” on Ghent and Quarry Road near the newly constructed school, including a “walking path, widening, et cetera” is scheduled to be completed by summer 2020, but not before the school opens on Aug. 15. 

Several residential developments are already under construction near where the new ICS is located. In addition to around 30 upscale single-family homes in the new Walnut Ridge Estates and the nearly 45 homes in Fox Run Estates  around the Columbia Lakes area, 30 single-family lots are slated for development near Quarry and Rueck roads.

Also in development are an apartment complex and condominiums near the  existing Columbia Lakes apartments.

Columbia Bluffs apartments will offer 130 units of “higher end” apartments just north of the existing apartments on Columbia Lakes Drive, according to Columbia building and zoning director Justin Osterhage. 

Osterhage also stated that the complex will feature a rec room, pool, workout facility and banquet room. The apartments will be two-bedroom, two-bathroom units. Osterhage said that the third building in the complex is close to being finished.

Another apartment complex near the area will feature up to 22 condominiums. Originally known as the “Water Tower Condos” during original planning, the condos will be built in conjunction with the number of interested occupants. 

The condos can be one- or two-family units, but the developer may only make one unit of the 22 allowed a three-family condo. Osterhage said that two buildings are finished while two are currently under construction and at least one family is scheduled to occupy a condo by late August of this year. 

Columbia’s Streetscape project began in 2005 as a part of a comprehensive plan to beautify downtown and Main Street in Columbia.

The city plans an August start for construction of phase two near City Hall  although Smith said that they are “at the mercy of IDOT” to finalize the grant process which has allowed for the project. 

Smith stated that project work will be completed “one block at a time,” and that the construction will cause “some inconvenience,” but the city will “try to minimize” any issues that may arise. 

The next phase is scheduled to begin next spring with another phase scheduled for next summer.

Smith urged anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on the construction progress to use the city’s website at columbiaillinois.com. 

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