Thursday, July 23, 2009

Post-Meltdown Lending Requirements May Quash Cottage Project

COLUMBIA, 7/23/09 (Beat Byte) -- The nation's financial crisis may be bad news for what Columbia builder Amir Ziv calls "the little cottages that could," a central city low-income housing project he had planned for Ridgeway Avenue patterned on architecturally aesthetic cottage projects in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.
After humping up the City Hall hill for the past year, Ziv has learned that local banks have lost much of their taste for new construction projects. Though Ziv and a partner were qualified and had financing last year, this year they were asked to re-qualify with new, more onerous terms it's unlikely the group will be able to meet.
"It's gotten a whole lot harder to get financing now," Ziv says. "They practically want you to open a CD (certificate of deposit) with most of the money for the project in it. If I could do that, I wouldn't need a loan."
Though the Columbia City Council twice unanimously approved the project, Ziv was never allowed to break ground. He spent over 18 months with engineers from one of the city's top firms, A Civil Group, rewriting and revamping plans to satisfy what he says was an ever-changing palette of city requirements. The experience has left him dazed and confused.
"It's amazing to me that these controversial, multi-million dollar projects not only get approved but get started in about the same time it's taken me to get this far," Ziv says. "Maybe I should apply for a TIF."


5) Columbia Heart Beat joins Nationwide New Journalism Project

COLUMBIA, 7/23/09 (Beat Byte) -- The Columbia Heart Beat has joined Brooklyn, NY-based Outside.In, a "hyperlocal" new journalism effort that collects content from thousands of local blogs and newspapers all over the country, organizing the content by location and displaying it to show all the latest headlines from a given area.


6) Alliance of Columbia Neighborhoods Forms

COLUMBIA, 7/23/09 (Beat Byte) -- Noting that Columbia's neighborhood associations may have feelings of isolation, Country Club Estates Neighborhood Association director Jim Downey has started the Columbia Neighborhood Alliance.

"Individual Neighborhood Associations almost exist in a vacuum, with little or no contact with other Neighborhood Associations, little or no cohesiveness even on issues which effect multiple neighborhoods, Downey says. "Efforts have been made in the past to create something of a formal "alliance", but these were necessarily problematic, given the large geographic area of the city and difficulty in coordinating meetings, or even sharing information, among such a diverse group."

The new alliance, online at

"is intended to provide a venue for the sharing of information and ideas," Downey says. "Collectively we're smarter and more experienced than any one individual or neighborhood association."


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