Recently, we told you about an incentive program the City of Columbia was offering to big businesses to encourage development in the city. Now, it looks like they have some takers.

“Anytime you have business building, I think that adds to the excitement of the building of a city,” said councilman Howard Duvall.

Council members are working with several different companies to develop vacant and unused properties around Downtown Columbia. In the perspective plans, we could be looking at hotels, retail space, mixed-income housing, public parking, and more.

To be eligible for the tax incentive the city is offering, these companies will have to build parking structures on the properties and offer up 25 percent of them for public use.

“This is an incentive that’s essential to stimulate the development of parking garages,” Duvall said, “which is what all three of these projects will be using.”

On the corner of Huger and Blossom Streets, developers are pushing for a $55 million project that would have multi-family housing and retail.

Near the baseball stadium on Boyce Street; there is a $60 million proposal with apartments, including affordable housing units, along with retail development.

On the corner of Huger and Gervais, the proposal is to start a $75 million project with retail, restaurant, hotel space, and more.

“Huger and Gervais is the busiest corner in the City of Columbia,” Duvall said. “Getting that corner developed properly is essential to the future plans of moving the city towards the three rivers that we have, trying to take advantage of our three rivers.”

But not everyone’s a fan. The owner at Canalside Lofts spoke out at the council meeting Tuesday night saying these incentives would give competitors an unfair advantage.

This all has to be approved by the county, but city council members said they’re hopeful they’ll get the vote they need to kick off these multi-million dollar projects.

“When you have close to $200 million worth of building going on, I think it stimulates other developers to take advantage of the incentives we have put in place,” Duvall said.

Duvall said, if all goes well with county council, we could see the first signs of construction within 6 months.

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