COLUMBIA, 2/20/11 (Beat Byte) -- Apparently seeing the light about the bizarre irony of applying the word "blight" to a functioning hotel and restaurant in Columbia's "hip and vibrant" downtown, senior city managers will present an amended TIF redevelopment area ordinance to the Columbia City Council Monday night that substitutes the less strident "conversation district" designation to the Regency Hotel.
The Columbia Heart Beat reported on an earlier ordinance that applied the racially and socially-charged term "blight" to the hotel, borrowing from a Missouri State Statute that defines a "blighted area" as unsanitary, unsafe, and morally derelict. Conservation district is a less-controversial term that allows redevelopment and tax incentive financing to proceed, but without the stigma of a blight decree.
Local communities have used the same Missouri statute to imposed the moral dereliction charge on black neighborhoods as a means to declare them blighted -- and eligible for taking by eminent domain.
In Columbia, several blight designations from another creature of state law, a Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, transferred nearly 200 acres of downtown land from both black and white owners to prominent citizens and government entities for less than 50 cents on the appraised value dollar.