Besides being up in arms about the (illegal) signs that are coming down off the building, some Eastern Columbia residents are pushing for the creation of a park at 9th and Hill. Bill Cooper, Committee Chair, Eastern Columbia Community Liaison Committee, has made an online petition, complete with a rendering, to gather support to create a park on the roughly 3/4 acre lot behind the Eastern Columbia, a lot that's owned by the KOR, also the building's developer. "The petition is to generate interest," says Cooper. "It's so the city knows there's another viable option for a park before they plunk down another $5 million for a park someplace else." That "someplace else" could be South Park, according to Cooper, who serves on the CD 9 Quimby Fees Committee. According to Cooper, there's been chatter that the city would use some of those quimby fees (fees paid for developers) to create a park near the Evo and Luma buildings. There was no confirmation on that bit of news, but we did talk with CBRE executive vice president Mark Tarczynski, who represents the land for KOR. Even using some of those downtown quimby funds, Tarczynski sounds skeptical that Cooper and his group could afford the land. "I'd be happy to sell them the land for $6.5 million," he says, noting that figure matches another recent offer. Pointing to the recent sale of the land near the Rowan development on Spring (a transaction that used $5.6 million in quimby funds for a park), Cooper countered by saying he believes the land is worth a figure closer to $5 million.
According to Cooper, there's substantial money left in the downtown quimby funds pool to help buy the land, while he imagines the rest of the funding would come from public and private donations. While the value of the condos in the Eastern Columbia could go up if a park was situated behind the building, Cooper says "the important thing right now the is to get the land." Meanwhile, he says no one KOR will return his calls or emails about the lot.
From the online petition: 9th and Hill Park
Mission/Goal: To successfully acquire the land at the corner of 9th and Hill from its owner using the combined efforts of both the public and private sector for the creation of a park.
Concept: A neighborhood park, approximately 3/4 of an acre, designed to meet the growing need for more open and public green spaces to serve the community immediately surrounding it. Conceptual plans for the park might include trees, shade, grass, walkways, sitting areas and water features.
Strategy: To enlist and bring together a cohesive team made up of residents, business owners, churches, city officials and philanthropists who share our goals. We will use this website to keep everyone informed of our accomplishments, put out requests for assistance and obtain input from our neighbors and stakeholders.
Challenges: Purchasing the land will most likely require both private and public financing. We will need to convince others that the site at 9th and Hill is the best site for the next park in downtown.
Rationale: It looks like a new park will be going in at 5th and Spring, just two blocks from Pershing Square and we have been hearing discussions of another park being planned for the South Park area which is already home to Grand Hope Park. We have over 358 families within one block of 9th and Hill, 1,040 families with two blocks and 2,113 families within 3 blocks. Our neighbors deserve to have a park close enough to walk to and we feel 9th and Hill is the best place to achieve this. The time to purchase land is now and we are dedicated to making this park a reality.