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Commission OKs plan to renovate Vista-area building for Girl Scouts headquarters

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The Columbia Design/Development Review Commission unanimously approved Thursday changes to a building at 1101 Williams St. in the Vista.

The building, across from the State Museum, is scheduled to be the new home of the Girl Scouts Mountains to Midlands Urban Leadership Center. The 30,000 square-foot building was constructed in 1971 and last renovated in 1974. The center will also be named in honor of Columbia business woman Cathy Novinger who passed away in November.

Lead architect for the project, Karen Quinn, spoke to the DDRC, mapping out the plan for the building. The biggest change will be re-orienting the entry from where it currently exists, to the corner of the building.

Key features on the interior include meeting space, a rock climbing wall, resale store, equipment and cookie storage, maker spaces, a library, an office suite, and bunk spaces for overnight trips. Exterior renovations include changing the exterior, utilizing color and the Girl Scout logo at various locations to identify entrances and also to help identify the building from Gervais, Senate, and Williams Streets for the many out of town visitors coming to the site.

A question was brought up about painting the exterior of the building, after an earlier ruling prohibited the painting of a house at Melrose Heights. City planners explained that the house in an historic district, and the Girl Scout building is not subject to the same restrictions.

The renovation improves pedestrian linkages by connecting to existing sidewalks and adds off-street parking similar to the surrounding area, while maintaining widths necessary for future bike lanes and pedestrian paths so that it can easily be converted at a future point if desired. It incorporates one-way traffic around the building with a service court on the north side and a grassy space for programs on the west, and increases the landscaping around the building to better define the site.

When originally built in 1971, the building housed parking space on the ground floor.

Renovations are expected to begin in April with completion of the project scheduled for the end of the year.

Current building at 1101 Williams Street PHOTO/PROVIDED       Rendering of Girl Scout building PHOTO/PROVIDED

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