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Springfield, MO

Council considers amending Farmers Park district

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Springfield City Council last night heard the first reading of a bill to expand the boundaries of the Shoppes at James River Community Improvement District to include recently purchased city-owned land and allow for $2.6 million in new reimbursable expenses on the property planned for Farmers Park.

On May 7, Matt O'Reilly - developer of a planned $24 million mixed-use residential, office and commercial district centered around a permanent farmers' market -  purchased five acres of city-owned property through Green Circle Projects LLC with the understanding that the CID in place since 2009 would be amended. The bill introduced last night would allow a 1-cent sales tax inside the district to reimburse O'Reilly for storm-water drainage improvements, the construction of roads and trails, public utilities, street and trail lighting, public plazas and fountains.

Springfield Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith said the city issued a request in January to sell its land adjacent to the Shoppes at James River, which is anchored by the Hilton Garden Inn and Houlihan's South at the corner of Glenstone Avenue and Republic Road. Republic Road LLC, the development company of commercial real estate agent and Shoppes' creator Tom Rankin, and O'Reilly's Green Circle Projects worked together to make a proposal, Smith said. Council approved the $430,000 sale at its May 7 meeting.

On April 9, O'Reilly provided council details of the plans for the 12-acre development as a resolution was introduced to consider the sale of the city-owned property, which included a roughly two-acre water-detention basin.

At last night's meeting, Smith said O’Reilly, who is known as a sustainability advocate and owner of outdoor gear retailer Dynamic Earth, was moving forward with plans to improve storm-water collection at the detention basin. Following the meeting, Smith said O’Reilly purchased the land as a way to increase the green space on the development property.

“There were two tracts of land. There was the tract that has the regional storm-water detention basin, and there was a tract of vacant land. We had to buy all of that property when we needed to build the storm-water basin, so our intent was always to sell the vacant tract. But when we started talking about it, there was some indication from Mr. O’Reilly that he would be interested in buying all of it, because then he could use the storm-water basin as part of his required green space and make the rest of his development more dense,” Smith said.  

With the establishment of the Shoppes' CID in 2009, Rankin could receive up to $2.4 million from the district sales tax to cover costs associated with the construction of the Houlihan’s and Hilton Garden Inn. If the bill introduced Monday passes, O’Reilly would be eligible to receive up to $2.6 million in construction costs associated with Farmers Park, allowing the sales tax to cover roughly $5 million in development costs through 2059.

No members of the public spoke on the proposal. Council is expected to hear a second reading on the bill and vote at its July 30 meeting.[[In-content Ad]]

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