Local

Development pipeline empty

After a decade of unprecedented growth, downtown Columbia’s building boom is about to come to a rude halt.

Several large projects, including the 17-story Main & Gervais office tower and the Aspyre apartment complex on Assembly Street, are being completed this year.

After that? The pipeline behind them is pretty much empty.

While plans for downtown projects are on the drawing board, the tight lending market is making it exceedingly difficult for developers to get anything out of the ground.Having bankers green light few projects now, means there will be little construction in late 2009 and early 2010. One indicator is agenda items before the ColumbiaPlanning Commission, where projects get permitted. Permits dropped 60 percent in 2008 from 2007, and that trend is continuing.

In addition to few projects being permitted, some of Columbia’s biggest ongoing projects — including the condo portion of CanalSide on the old CCI prison site and USC’sInnovista research campus — have been delayed by the poor economy.

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NO PERMITS NOW, NO BUILDING LATER

Agenda items heard by the Columbia Planning Commission dropped 60 percent in 2008 from 2007, a trend that is continuing this year. Permits must be issued for projects ranging from large downtown buildings to residential annexations. The lower number issued is an indication of both a commercial and residential downturn.

15.7: Average number of items on the planning commission’s monthly agenda in 2007

6.4: Average number of items on the planning commission’s monthly agenda in 2008

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