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Cherry, 65 gets development surge

At least four groups have filed building permits to start work on East Cherry Street near U.S. Highway 65

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Last edited 11:48 a.m., Jan. 21, 2020

East Cherry Street is about to get a whole new look.

At least four development groups have filed building permits to start work on East Cherry Street near U.S. Highway 65. Three of the projects totaling roughly $30 million are slated to break ground in the first quarter.

From a corporate office to a dog park and a multimillion-dollar apartment complex, East Cherry Street’s wooded acreage will soon be heavily developed.

“They’re going to be nice additions for that area,” said Brent Johnson, who’s building an office for his Sonic Drive-In franchise group, Excel Investments LP.

Johnson originally purchased 36 acres in the 3000 block of East Cherry Street and sold 26 acres to an investment group planning an apartment complex, as well as 5 acres to the development group behind a dog park.

Johnson plans to move his company’s Bolivar headquarters to 3000 E. Cherry St., where general contractor Construct LLC has started work on the $1.2 million office. The Sonic franchisee, known as Excel SDI Group, operates 13 stores in Missouri, including Ozark, Nixa and Bolivar, and one in Kansas, Johnson said, adding there’s efforts to expand the franchise into a new state.

Abbye Torgerson, project architect for Torgerson Design Partners LLC, said the Excel office is designed as 9,100 square feet with roughly 5,575 square feet of warehousing space, which Johnson said would be used to store overflow automotive parts from his son’s business, ST Motorsports.

Canine digs
Just down the street from Johnson’s corporate office, construction crews are expected to break ground on an apartment complex and a dog park project in the first quarter, according to project officials.

An undisclosed investment group that includes Wayne Morelock of Morelock Builders & Associates Inc. is planning a multifamily apartment complex for dog lovers at 3080 E. Cherry St.

The $27 million complex, dubbed The Crossings at East Cherry, will feature amenities such as a dog wash station, dog-friendly community spaces and a pool, said real estate broker Matt Miller of The Closer’s Agency, which brokered the land deal.

“It’s really targeted to dog owners and dog lovers, and that’s a really broad demographic,” Miller said. “There’s a difference between units that allow people to have pets and what we’re talking about here, which is deliberately themed to attract people who love dogs, have dogs and want to live near them.”

Morelock, the investment group’s managing partner, said The Crossings at East Cherry is its first development. He said the group has other projects in the pipeline but declined to disclose plans.

Construction on the 81,400-square-foot complex is expected to begin this month with an $8.5 million first phase for 80 units with one-, two- and three-bedrooms. At build-out, the Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective designed complex will have roughly 240 units, Miller said, noting a final completion date has yet to be set.

Apartment housing has been heating up in the Springfield area, with at least six senior living developments and a $50 million student housing complex under construction right now in the market. Another multifamily apartment complex in the works is the $18.5 million SilverLeaf Apartments, located at 4069 W. Republic Road in Battlefield, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

In July, the Springfield apartment occupancy rate was roughly 96%, according to commercial real estate data firm CoStar Group Inc (Nasdaq: CSGP).

Next door to The Crossings, planning is underway for a dog park and bar concept called Bark Yard. Co-owner Tommy Buterbaugh said he and Morelock’s development group did not coordinate business plans. He declined to disclose project costs, but a city permit for the dog park at 3110 E. Cherry St. lists the estimated value at $1.4 million.

Originally planned to be complete in mid-2020, Buterbaugh said the project has stalled since its July announcement. He said he’s hopeful to begin construction in mid-February.

The 5-acre lot, which Johnson sold to Buterbaugh for an undisclosed amount, will include a few acres for the dog park and a roughly 6,000-square-foot building for day care, boarding and an indoor dog park, as well as a bar and patio area for dog owners. Bark Yard is slated to join Springfield’s only off-leash dog park Cruse Dog Park, which opened in 2008.

CarMax market entry
A national-used car dealer also has its eye on east Springfield.

CarMax Auto Superstores Inc., which currently operates three Missouri locations in Kansas City and St. Louis, filed a building permit this month with the city of Springfield for a new commercial property at 3344 E. Cherry St. – about a block away from the planned Bark Yard. The permit is for a 7,500-square-foot building, parking lot and above ground fuel tank.

A land disturbance permit also was filed with the city for 5 acres at the site.

“We are pleased to confirm that CarMax has identified a site in the Springfield area as a good fit for our current growth plan,” CarMax spokeswoman Nicole Rappaport said in a statement, adding it may take several years before the dealership is open for business.

She said CarMax officials will announce the store opening one year ahead of the anticipated opening date. Rappaport declined to comment further on the project.

CarMax officials previously told SBJ the company typically invests $10 million-$25 million in new locations. CarMax has more than 200 stores nationwide and sold nearly 750,000 used cars and 450,000 wholesale vehicles last fiscal year, Rappaport said.

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