Glut of new student housing continues to divide downtown Columbia

Downtown Columbia | Nicole Lunger/Missouri Business Alert
Several new apartment projects have brought a flood of new residents — and a shortage of parking — to downtown Columbia. | Nicole Lunger/Missouri Business Alert

Columbia’s downtown student housing boom started in 2010 and, with several projects currently under construction near the University of Missouri campus, isn’t showing any signs of slowing.

The proliferation of new apartments provides lots of options for MU students, but it’s an unwelcome reality for some Columbia residents. A recent petition seeking to prevent one downtown apartment project garnered 5,400 signatures.

Area businesses are also feeling the effects of the boom. While the increase of downtown housing has helped some establishments, it has hurt others. With so many new residents, parking has become an issue, causing some potential customers to take their business elsewhere.

One reason for the rapid pace of development is the relatively lax C-2 zoning that governs the area. To address that, the Columbia City Council amended the zoning code, restricting the height of buildings and making stipulations about parking spots.

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