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Drury University plans to raze buildings at Benton Avenue and Chestnut Expressway to provide more exposure for the school. Officials say an academic building could be built on the site.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
Drury University plans to raze buildings at Benton Avenue and Chestnut Expressway to provide more exposure for the school. Officials say an academic building could be built on the site.

Drury buys Route 66-themed gas station property

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As part of its 25-year master plan, Drury University purchased a high-traffic property currently housing a Route 66-themed gas station, food shop, used car lot and auto body shop.

Mike Brothers, Drury’s executive director of university relations, said the private liberal arts school bought the property, as well as an adjacent building to the north, last month for undisclosed terms from Phil Swanson.

Brothers said Swanson intends to relocate his Route 66 Food Shop and used car business Dr. Phil’s Glenstone Motor Co. to his Sinclair gas station at 3328 N. Glenstone Ave. He also plans to move his Ozark Mountain Gourmet Popcorn store to a refurbished property on Commercial Street, Brothers said. Brothers was unsure whether the Autotronics gas station would be relocated.

Swanson, who could not be reached this morning by deadline, will transition his businesses and employees over a period of several months, according to a news release.

At the 1.5-acre property at 700 and 730 N. Benton Ave., Drury later this year will raze the buildings after the gas station’s underground fuel tanks are removed in June.

Brothers said, in the short term, Drury would use the property as a green space. A specific use for the property has not been determined, but he said an academic building could be built on the space. In the meantime, he said signage would be installed at Benton Avenue and Chestnut Expressway to better expose Drury to passersby.

“This property provides an opportunity to do something very visible, very bold,” he said. “What that will be, we really don’t know.”

In November, Drury unveiled its master plan after working for months with New York City-based architecture and design firm Cooper Robertson & Partners LLP.

The master plan, in part, moves to define the campus’ edges and establish a residential precinct to the north end of campus and an innovation precinct to the south, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

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