Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mayor Coble Promotes Retail Strategy

Mayor Coble has been expressing his plans for further development of downtown retail. Coble has taken over where Terry Brown, CEO of Edens & Avant and Vice Chairman of City Center Partnership, left off at last Novembers annual meeting. Brown had asked the city for more assistance with retail incentives, amenities, and tax-increment financing, in hopeful efforts of enticing developers to take more risks with larger retail projects downtown.

Coble reinforces Brown's message, and while speaking to the Columbia Rotary Club last month, he narrowed it down to the following five issues.
1. Effective coordination with the private sector
2. The correct mix of incentives such as loans and facade grants, and tax0increment financing that must come into play to help pay for streetscaping and green space
3. A better job by the city in making parking more customer friendly, even with additional parking planned and under construction.
4. Security and the perception of security
5. A new signage system for the downtown area, called the Wayfinder Program, which has already been approved and paid for.

The City Center Partnership and the city are looking forward to embarking on this dynamic retail initiative. Mayor Coble's remarks follow a recent trip to Austin, Texas to study their retail initiative with a delegation that included Jim Apple, Chairman of City Center Partnership, Matt Kennell, President and CEO; Frank Lourie, a longstanding merchant and baord member; Jim Gambrell, Director of City of Columbia's Office of Economic Development; and Councilman E.W Cromartie.