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City Beat: CarMax planning first Springfield store

Development of at least $10 million is a few years out

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Springfield could be getting its first CarMax dealership.

Springfield City Council on June 4 reviewed a proposed land rezoning at 3344 E. Cherry St. that would allow the national used-car retailer to open its fourth Missouri store.

The 5-acre Springfield lot fronts U.S. Highway 65, just south of Reliable Subaru and Reliable RV.

The land sits vacant, currently zoned for general manufacturing. The planned rezoning would allow for highway commercial uses, as proposed by landowner HMR Properties LLC.

Council members didn’t discuss the proposal, and a final zoning vote is expected June 18. Greg Saia, a development manager for Lakewood, Colorado-based CenterPoint Integrated Solutions, represented CarMax during the council meeting.

He later referred Springfield Business Journal’s questions to CarMax corporate offices. Lindsey Duke, a corporate CarMax spokeswoman, said a construction timeline has not yet been determined.

“Once it gets through all of the approvals and construction, it’ll be a few years,” Duke said.

In a statement, Duke noted the company typically invests $10 million to $25 million on new locations, and the store likely would be 7,400 square feet.

The store would employ about 15 associates, she said, with a stock of up to 200 used cars.

CarMax would announce its grand opening in Springfield a year in advance, Duke said.

Richmond, Virginia-based CarMax Inc. operates more than 190 stores in 41 states, employing some 25,000 associates, according to its website. During its most recent fiscal year, Duke said, the company sold more than 1.1 million vehicles.

The company recently opened stores in Jensen Beach, Florida; McKinney, Texas; Greenville, North Carolina; and Golden, Colorado, according to recent news releases.

In Missouri, the company operates two stores in St. Louis, with a third location in Independence.

CVB funding
The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau expects a nearly $3.6 million budget to market the Queen City during the upcoming 2019 fiscal year.

Council reviewed the funding during the June 4 meeting, with a final vote expected June 18. The bureau gets half of the city’s 5 percent tax on the gross receipts of hotels and motels, estimated at nearly $2.7 million, according to council agenda materials.

Another $196,500 comes from the Division of Tourism through a cooperative marketing program, with another $695,900 delivered via private funding, mostly through advertising, according to the agenda materials.

CVB President and CEO Tracy Kimberlin said the group’s total funding is largely unchanged from fiscal 2018, with an expected loss of about $40,000.

“We will be spending approximately $2 million marketing Springfield as a place to come and vacation or hold your sporting event or convention,” Kimberlin told council.

“One could argue that all of our staff is also in marketing,” he added, “so we spend virtually everything that we have trying to generate more business and economic impact for the city.”

Kimberlin noted lacking growth in the city’s meeting and convention market.

“Our meeting and convention room demand ... has been flat since about 2000,” Kimberlin said. “That’s almost 20 years of no growth. Other segments of travel are increasing very nicely.”

He said the city’s total room demand is up by roughly 10 percent since the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium opened in September 2017, with additional growth expected. WOW will be a major focus for the bureau moving forward, Kimberlin said.

Meanwhile, he said the CVB is concerned with the city’s availability of indoor amateur sports facilities.

Also during its June 4 meeting, council reviewed $85,350 in funding for Greater Springfield Area Sports Commission Inc. to attract sporting events. The budget is essentially unchanged from the last fiscal year, Kimberlin said.

“The indoor sports facilities are becoming fairly common around the country,” he said. “And that is putting a lot of additional competition on us in that market, as well.”

Budget passed
In other business, council gave final approval of the city’s fiscal 2019 budget of roughly $366 million, a 5 percent increase over fiscal 2018, which ends June 30.

The city’s projected general fund budget totals $84 million, which is up roughly 1.3 percent.

City financial analyst Brandie Fisher previously told council that revenue from sales and use taxes is expected to grow by 2 percent, with payments in lieu of taxes from City Utilities expected to increase by 2.5 percent.

Fisher said gross receipts from telecommunications and cable television companies, meanwhile, are expected to decrease by 7.5 percent. Other revenue sources for the city are essentially flat, she said.

The city will be adding 21.5 full-time equivalent employees: 11 for the Springfield Police Department, including 10 sworn officers; seven for Environmental Services; one for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board; and one for the city’s Risk Management program.

Greene County has agreed to fund 1.5 FTEs for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. The city currently employs a staff of 2,496, including regular, contract, temporary and seasonal employees, said Springfield Human Resources Director Darla Morrison.

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