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City Beat: CID proposed for city’s 2nd Target store

Taxing district would fund improvements to shopping center’s interior and exterior roads

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Springfield City Council on Feb. 26 heard a proposal for a community improvement district for Sunshine Towne Center, the future home of Springfield’s second Target store.

The shopping center is under development on the southeast corner of the West Sunshine Street and West Bypass intersection.

A cooperative agreement among the city, developer Springfield West Partners LLC and the new CID would reimburse the developer for up to $2.2 million in improvements to internal streets within the 23-acre development site. It would do so by imposing a 1-cent sales and use tax on goods within the district, which would encompass the entire site except for the Target store itself.

Another incentive, an infrastructure reimbursement agreement approved by council on June 26, 2023, is contingent upon passage of the CID. That agreement would reimburse developers up to $4 million for improvements to West Sunshine Street, West Bypass and South Moore Road.

A vote on the CID is scheduled for March 11.

Tom Walker of Sunshine West Partners said the public has been supportive of the development.

“The response has been unbelievable for this project,” he said. “I’ve developed retail for decades, and we have people lined up to take space in this project. It’s that good.”

Springfield Economic Vitality Director Amanda Ohlensehlen said the shopping center would be anchored by a 150,000-square-foot Target, which will have about 30,000 square feet more retail space than the existing Springfield store at 1825 E. Primrose St. The Sunshine Towne Center development also will include a 50,000-square-foot retail shopping center and three outparcel lots. Plans for the shopping center cover 23 acres.

Walker said developing the Target store hinged on having access off West Bypass, as the Missouri Department of Transportation would not allow westbound access across the median on Sunshine Street. He noted most people using the store would travel from the east.

Walker said MoDOT granted an entrance from the state limited-access highway via a road that is planned to run along the south side of the north-facing Target store. The access point comes at a cost of $135,000, he said.

Streets in the development would be built to city specifications with heavy-duty asphalt, Walker said, but there will never be a requirement for the city to maintain or replace the streets; rather, an operation and easement agreement will be set up between Springfield West Partners and Target regarding the responsibility for maintaining and improving the streets.

The CID as proposed would have a life of 20 years. The proposed five-member CID board of directors, which must be OK’d by the mayor and council, is Walker, Greg Smith, Jameson Clark, John Fugitt and Sean McQueary.

To reimburse the city for costs associated with establishing the CID, the city would receive 1.5% of district sales and use tax revenues on a quarterly basis.

Conditional use permit procedure
Council members are continuing to hammer away at a policy shift that would allow changes to conditional use permits without review by the Planning & Zoning Commission in an effort to expedite the development process.

Prior to the bill’s introduction to council, sponsored by Councilmember Callie Carroll, on Jan 8, P&Z voted against modifying the conditional use permit process. A substitute bill introduced at the Feb. 26 council meeting aimed to address concerns of P&Z following conversations with Chair Natalie Broekhoven, according to Mayor Ken McClure.

Council voted to again postpone the vote, this time until March 25 to allow for further review by the city’s legal department.

The proposed change to the city’s land development code would allow council to make small changes to conditional use permits without remanding measures to P&Z.

Council receives recommendations for or against zoning measures, including conditional use permits, from P&Z and considers the body’s perspective before voting them up or down. City code currently allows council only to vote for or against a CUP, and any changes – including corrections of typos and small errors – must be remanded to P&Z for further review, reportedly causing delays in development projects; a proposed CUP must be added to the agenda of a twice-monthly meeting of P&Z and then go through council’s two-meeting legislative approval process, potentially delaying approval of a development by more than six weeks.

The latest iteration of the code change would allow council either to approve a CUP as presented or to remove conditions from it, but any additions would have to be remanded to P&Z for review.

Subsequent reviews by P&Z and council would each include a new public hearing on the CUP.

Councilmember Craig Hosmer expressed concern about the process, noting it seems to favor developers over residents.

“It seems like we’re sort of erring on the side if it’s beneficial to the developer or to development, we can be done with it,” he said. “If it’s not, if we make any type of changes, it has to go back to Planning & Zoning.”

Hosmer said he thought the bill was intended to allow technical changes that do not substantially change the CUP.

City Manager Jason Gage said the measure does not address whether changes made by council are more or less restrictive, and changes could benefit any party with a stake in the project.

Councilmember Brandon Jenson said he thought the goal was to streamline processes while allowing maximum opportunity for conversation around changes, but added that is not the effect of the legislation in its current form.

“We may choose to remand something back to P&Z for their additional consideration, but it doesn’t necessarily require the input of those experts that we’ve appointed to lend their time and credibility to these projects,” he said.

He added that a modification or deletion of a condition may be remanded to P&Z for further consideration, but it does not have to be.

“That concern still stands, that a modification or a deletion still can have substantial impact to any interested parties, and yet we’re not required to send that back,” Jenson said.

He said CUPs are less common than other zoning measures, citing 10-15 requests coming before council in any given year, and the change being discussed would have benefited only one CUP application in the last couple of years.

“Is it worth making this change to our system, weakening the advisory power of our Planning & Zoning Commission to improve the process for 5% of folks pursuing a CUP in our city?” he said.

Other action items

  • Council approved several rezonings: nearly half an acre at 3961 S. Campbell Ave. to highway commercial from general retail for applicant Conspo LLC for a car rental business; 1 acre at 701 W. Wall St. to city center as requested by the city of Springfield from heavy manufacturing for the relocation of the Hotel of Terror haunted attraction, which remains under negotiation; and 0.4 acres at 1137-41 E. Delmar St. to planned development from residential single family for MSU Housing LLC and Faucett & Bates LLC for the renovation of Bambino’s restaurant. Council also OK’d vacating a portion of public right of way in the 1000 block of South Florence Avenue for Bambino’s parking.
  • A vote was postponed on a $6.5 million allocation of carryover funds from fiscal 2023. The allocation would include $1.4 million for breathing apparatus for the Fire Department, $4.5 million for Historic City Hall renovations, $188,000 for Cooper Park and Killian Sports Complex improvements, $200,000 for Public Works for Americans with Disabilities Act assessment and $100,000 for crisis cold weather shelter funding. The sticking point for some council members is a $182,000 allocation for improvements to the South Creek Greenway Trail, a portion of which is outside of city limits. Council will vote on a substitute bill on March 11.
  • An appropriation of $1.1 million was OK’d for Council of Churches of the Ozarks Inc. to put toward a congregate shelter. The money comes from American Rescue Plan Act funds.
  • At the request of property owner Center Court LLC, council postponed until April 22 its consideration of rezoning 39 acres at 2730 E. Farm Road 188 to residential single family from planned development. The owner intends to sell the property to an unnamed church.
  • Eleven people participated in the public comment portion of the meeting. A majority of them represented tenants’ rights organization Springfield Tenants Unite, which is asking council for landlord licensing and rental property inspections in the city.

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