Springfield City Council is set to vote at its July 27 meeting on establishing three community improvement districts throughout the city.
The three requests would collectively fund nearly $15.6 million in public improvements across nearly 144 acres – the majority of which would come from a proposed CID where The Ridge at Ward Branch development is planned near The Library Center on South Campbell Avenue, according to city documents. The other CIDs are proposed near Glenstone Avenue and Kearney Street and along South West Bypass.
The public hearing of the proposals came in the early hours of July 14 after council members heard over four hours of public comment from residents regarding a face mask ordinance, which ultimately passed. Springfield Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner said at the meeting the applicants were trying to gain council approval and hold their respective elections before a proposed state law was set to go into effect.
At the time of the meeting, Gov. Mike Parson had not yet acted on proposed legislation that would require a vote of a municipality for CIDs beginning Aug. 28, rather than a vote by those in the district area. Later in the day on July 14, Parson vetoed the bill and its Senate substitute because multiple subjects were tacked on that were not considered consistent with the bill’s original purpose.
Though there’s no longer a race against the clock, Kerner said council is still set to consider the proposals on July 27, and developers have not pulled back on their plans.
“They certainly have a little more breathing room now,” she said. “This moved the process along, and as far as I’ve heard, they’re all moving forward.”
One of the CID proposals came from RW Developments LLC, which had previously sought tax increment financing assistance for its planned 100-acre development The Ridge at Ward Branch.
Co-developer Phil Williams previously told Springfield Business Journal the TIF process was taking too long and that he’d have to alter the plans without TIF assistance. He declined to provide updated cost or plans for the project.
If approved by council, the CID would be established for the entire development site, bounded by The Library Center and the James River Commons development to the north, Weaver Road to the south, Campbell Avenue to the east, and the Quail Creek and Wellington Hills subdivisions to the west.
The CID would create a sales and use tax of up to 1% on all retail purchases within the district, if approved by voters after council. Those tax revenues would be used to fund the roughly $13.6 million in public improvements necessary to facilitate construction of the development, including streets and sidewalks, utilities, stormwater management facilities and landscaping.
Announced in summer 2018, The Ridge had been marketed as a $500 million development plan. The mixed-use project calls for commercial space for restaurants, hotels, offices, retail centers and lofts. Williams said in an SBJ interview that the coronavirus pandemic has delayed negotiations with potential tenants, which he declined to disclose.
He said the project would be “significantly impacted” without the CID.
“We have quite a bit of infrastructure expense that we’re having to put in because of the way the site is accessible and the amount of rock that needs to be removed,” he said. “If we weren’t able to get the CID, then this whole project would not be able to happen. We’d have to change course quite a bit and almost sell a piece of the land we have done at this point.”
A failed vote also would impact construction of roads throughout the property because of the cost of excavation and the topography on the site, he said.
“We believe council will look favorably on this,” he said. “We’re not trying to do anything over and above the rules; we’re just trying to meet the standards they’ve given to us to develop on this land.”
The CID board of directors is set to comprise Williams, co-developer Trip Rhoades, Derek Smith, Thomas Jennings Conyers and Dan Coryell, according to the proposal. The agreement with the city also outlines that the district would reimburse the city with roughly 1.5% of the sales and use taxes collected on a quarterly basis.
Prepping for development
Council also will consider a request for a blighted CID at 4.5 acres near Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue, where the Springfield Inn is located.
The proposal seeks up to a 1% sales and use tax to fund the demolition of the hotel, which is expected to cost $550,000, according to city documents.
Developer Brad Thessing, of applicant Missouri Commercial Development LLC, said the group plans to purchase the land from hotel owner Harish Patel. Once the hotel is demolished, the group plans to develop on the land, though details have not yet been finalized, said Thessing, noting the group is in discussion with several national companies. Patel did not return requests for comment by deadline.
Thessing most recently developed Glenstone Marketplace at 3333 S. Glenstone Ave., according to SBJ archives.
Off of West Bypass, developer Kevin Carleton of Carleton Resources LLC also is mulling project ideas. He submitted a proposal for a CID with the intention to make public improvements on 38 acres near South West Bypass and Grand Street for a future, unspecified development. The public improvements are expected to cost nearly $1.5 million, according to city documents.
“We are doing this probably a little quicker than we had anticipated because we felt like we had to get it in,” Carleton said of the potential Aug. 28 deadline.
He said he’s not slowing down with the CID proposal and he plans to submit a rezoning request next month to change to multifamily residential from highway commercial.
If that’s not approved, he said he’ll move forward with a commercial development.
“We do think there’s a need for multifamily in that area,” he said. “We’re just hopeful to enhance the West Bypass district … it’s much needed.”
Web Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.
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