Nope. This post is not about all those [redacted] parking garages. The jewel to which I’m referring is the long-abandoned Osco building just west of downtown. Not only is this [redacted] piece of [redacted] a [redacted] eyesore, but it also happens to be owned by the richest man in town, Stan [redacted] Kroenke.
Recently*, Kroenke narrowly avoided a $25k fine for parking some toys on the old Osco lot. Yes, that rich piece of [redacted] was somehow allowed to illegally park a bunch of bulldozers and cranes on the lot, but I can’t get out of a $15 parking ticket for leaving my Ford Escort on Ninth Street for ten minutes past the meter’s expiration while I wait for an Elvis Parsley at Main Squeeze. That [redacted] can also leave that eyesore to end all eyesores untouched with nary a fine or reprimand. I guess those are the perks for the world’s 440th richest [redacted]. He is the 1%, mother [redacted]s. (To be fair and slightly more accurate, Kroenke was renting the lot to the university for work being done on campus, [redacted] both Peter and Paul simultaneously.)
To further complicate this issue, one has to look at the history of the property. What was there before Osco? The historic irony is that site was “purged” during the early part of the urban renewal period of “shacks” (i.e., poor black people living where visitors could see them) so that the gateway to downtown and to the university would be more appealing. So, now instead of poor black people impolitely showing their poverty to the rest of the world, we have one of the world’s richest men letting a dilapidated retail store (that he helped run out of business) disintegrate to the ground. So, the take away to me from that is: it’s alright to look at white, rich people’s [redacted], but not poor black people’s [redacted].
Anyway, my real point was to complain about the current Osco fiasco, not filthy rich jerks with a borderline porn star mustache**. The store that apparently specialized in vitamins and furniture kits(?) closed just over seven years ago. Still, nothing is currently happening at the old Osco building. The good people of Columbia have their ideas for the potential meth lab, but Kroenke sits on the property and the city just lets him.
The state of that building clearly is in violation of city/county health code and clearly no one at the city or county intends to enforce said code. Yet, a college kid puts a couch on his porch or parks on perma-mud to expand a gravel driveway a space and it can cost them hundreds of dollars in tickets and fines.
There are rumblings concerning the use of imminent domain and the rekindling of an urban renewal board to be used to declare part of downtown blighted where current owners don’t want to sell, but big developers want to develop. As the god-I-don’t-believe-in as my witness and over my rotting my corpse will single-family residential downtown be declared ‘blighted’ while that [redacted] Osco monstrosity sits there rotting in slow-motion. For this, the Comoian may have to come out of hiding.
People, pay close attention, the entire western corner of the intersection of Broadway/Providence (up to the cemetery on the south and the bank building on the north) are slowly being emptied and those parcels are being aggregated. You all need to understand that a BIG, [REDACTED] retail/commercial development is going to happen on both sides of Broadway sometime in the next 20-30 years. The Osco lot is already part of the Community Improvement District (CID). I’m not sure about the north-side lots, but we need to pay attention for those that are not already C-2 (central business district) asking for that zoning designation. The public will have virtually no input into how that develops thanks to everyone sitting around with their thumbs up their [redacted] while the Special Business District*** cronies got the CID**** pushed through. CoMo will pay for that HUGE.
Ever been to Lincoln, NE’s dead downtown? I fear that is our fate. We don’t want to be Lincoln [redacted], Nebraska, do we?
So, the next time you drive by that pile of [redacted] once known as “Osco”, be sure to think of Kroenke and his cronies in city hall trying to turn us into Lincoln or simply a town of [redacted] empty strip malls. Imagine all the good things that could be done with that plot of land that would be preferable to an empty lot, waiting to provide trust funds for spoiled brats or even to line the pockets of select members of city council in the form of campaign contributions. Let that lot be a reminder of what’s really going on in CoMo as we all bask in the dawning of a new year and want to preserve what’s good and right with this place. Just don’t ignore it, CoMo. We can’t let these [redacted] win.
*Well, two weeks ago, actually. I get my news from leftover newspapers in people’s yards. I’m too cheap to subscribe to newspapers and am functionally illiterate anyway. So, what would I do with a newspaper once I got my hands on one?
**Interesting tidbit: Although Kroenke’s flavor saver is porn-worthy, he isn’t married to a porn star like fellow 1%-er and CoMo-fine-avoider, trailer trash developer, and space house aficionado George Gradow.
***The Special Business District, which was a 501C3 that was essentially a department of City government funded through local tax dollars and governed by a city council appointed board. The SBD is in the process of being dissolved and replaced by the CID.
****The CID’s a [redacted] travesty, nightmare for downtown. Downtown property owners can now pretty much do whatever the [redacted] they want with little public oversight or input. What was once a little jewel in the middle of nowhere will be turned into milquetoast, boring as all [redacted], suburbanesque piece of Disney bull [redacted] for “the ladies that lunch” in no time. It’s disgusting.
Kate and Zac asked me to include this disclaimer so that they don’t get blamed for my opinions. That’s fine. Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory and keep forgetting to post it. In case you’ve forgotten, the above are my opinions, not theirs. I can own up to that while maintaining anonymity. So, you should know that The Comoian is part of the Collective meant to provide another perspective on Columbia not currently present in our pages. This perspective – like all the opinions on this website – are not representative of The CoMo Collective, its editors, nor its writers as a whole. Take it for what it is. Leave angry comments in the space below.
Also, the Comoian would like to send a warm thank-you to the Ever-Crabby, Doubter of Professed Communtarian Intentions of the Hyper-Wealthy. Without her knowledge and eloquence, this post/rant would never have been possible.