Multiple property transactions by Springfield developer James Tillman and business partner Joseph Hulston signal the start of the city’s sought after Kearney Street redevelopment.
“We sold that to him and his group, and they’re going to be self-developing it,” said Ross Murray, vice president at commercial real estate firm R.B. Murray Co.
Organized as Kansas and Kearney Intersection Center LLC, Tillman and Hulston purchased 3.5 acres at the southeast corner of Kansas Expressway and Kearney Street listed for $1.8 million. Additional transactions of the adjacent residential block – about 12 parcels ranging in price between $25,000 and $70,000, Tillman said – bring the development area to roughly 5 acres. The block holds roughly 16 residential properties, as well as 1.15 acres of vacant commercial property at the corner of Kansas and Kearney, next to a Brown Derby Liquor Store at 1502 W. Kearney St.
“Kum & Go is actually looking at the front corner,” Tillman said. “We’re looking to put a casual restaurant in there, or maybe a fast-food restaurant in there, and then maybe some retail space and possibly a coffee shop.”
Development plans are just taking shape.
“We are still working on tenants at this point,” he said, mentioning Starbucks or Scooter’s. “We do not at this time have a schedule for breaking ground on the piece of property.”
Murray said he would negotiate deals with potential tenants of Tillman’s development once the master site plan is in order. Tillman also will have to secure city rezoning for commercial uses.
“I know there are several people who are evaluating and looking at that property,” Murray said.
Other real estate activity is brewing on Kearney Street.
R.B. Murray also is working with four or five quick-serve restaurants interested in property along Kearney’s corridor.
Kearney Street, once a vibrant destination for Springfield consumers, has been the subject of a corridor study and redevelopment plans for almost a year.
On Sept. 25, city officials held a second public meeting to present drafted plans and to gather additional input. The action followed the completion in May of a $100,000 corridor study of the heart of Kearney – the 5.5 miles between Kansas Expressway and Glenstone Avenue – by St. Louis-based Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets Inc. The study found the corridor has the potential to capture additional retail sales of $95 million.
More recently, Springfield City Planner Olivia Hough held a presentation Oct. 12 for the North Springfield Betterment Association.
“The Realtors and bankers in attendance said they have seen an uptick in property acquisitions and interest in the area,” Hough said via email.
One interested real estate agent for Kearney Street is Skip Liebman of Carol Jones Realtors. Liebman is listing a property along the corridor at the corner of Kearney and Fort Avenue, only a block away from Tillman’s planned development.
“It’s catty-corner from where they talked about a food truck park,” Liebman said of the 1212 W. Kearney St. property. “We need a really strong, east west corridor. Developers know it makes sense to strengthen it.”
Next up for the corridor plan is a review by Springfield’s Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority, followed by a stop at the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Then, it would go to City Council. Hough said it was likely the plan would be heard by council as soon as December.
However, those plans have changed. On Oct. 16, council approved an administrative delay on redevelopment plans, and the Kearney Street Blight Report and Redevelopment Plan is subject to the delay, said Sarah Kerner, the city’s economic development director.
“We’ve put this project on hold until council adopts the workable program,” Kerner said via e-mail.
Even with the delay, Murray is confident of developers’ interest.
“Basically, a lot of the influence comes off (Interstate) 44 from a food and retail standpoint,” Murray said. “I think we’ll start to see more redevelopments over there. Those areas of town are prime for redevelopment.”
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