Columbia council to vote on revised downtown apartment contract

The Columbia City Council is expected to vote Monday on a revised apartment contract that has generated controversy since mid-March.

The city council is expected to vote Monday on changes to a contract for a controversial student apartment building.

The changes come a month and a half after the council approved a contract with Opus Development to build a six-story apartment building on Locust Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets. The new contract leaves the building largely intact but replaces the first-floor apartments along Eighth Street with lounges and workout facilities for tenants.

Controversy erupted after the council approved the original contract at a special meeting in March. Many residents objected to how the contract was approved, arguing it violated the cityâ??s downtown plans and its bylaws. The bill containing the contract was approved after one week rather than two. Residents petitioned the city to repeal the bill for that reason. Lawyers for Opus responded that repealing the legislation would amount to a breach of contract and lead to a messy legal battle.

That contract was approved 4-3, with then-First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt voting in favor of the project. Ginny Chadwick, who has since succeeded Schmidt, publicly criticized the project and is sponsoring the amended proposal. Chadwick wrote on Twitter Sunday that the new version of the contract will go through due process â??as the petition requested.â??