A developer wants to put a drive-thru coffee shop in a vacant lot across the street from Sunshine Elementary School, against the recommendations of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission.
On July 11, Springfield City Council heard a proposal from Reding Management LLC and Redec LLC, both owned by Royce Reding, to construct a 7 Brew Coffee shop featuring three drive-thru lanes with the capacity for 25 vehicles. The plan was a close copy of a proposal council heard on April 4 and remanded back to Planning & Zoning for developer revisions.
The only difference in the newly submitted plan, according to city staff, is the addition of 14 trees described as a buffer between the shop and the residences in the Seminole/Holland neighborhood.
The arboreal buffer was not enough to garner Planning & Zoning support, which declined to recommend it for the second time. City staff, however, did recommend the necessary zoning change and a conditional use permit to allow a drive-thru for the acre of property at 404, 420 and 424 E. Sunshine St.
The business would not be accessed directly from Sunshine Street but would be entered and exited from Jefferson Avenue with cross-access between Jefferson and Roanoke avenues. A second phase of development would require additional egress on Roanoke Avenue.
City Planning and Development Director Susan Istenes told council her staff recommends approval of the measures when they come up for a vote July 25.
Istenes said the appropriateness of the property for a limited business district is evident when considering development patterns in the area.
“In my opinion, I think the main concern with the planning commission really had to do with the drive-thru and the impacts to surrounding single-family residence neighbors,” she said.
Councilperson Richard Ollis said Sunshine Street is mostly a commercial corridor, and he asked why the area in question, roughly between Jefferson and National avenues, is viewed as residential instead of commercial.
Istenes replied that the city’s comprehensive plan looks at major intersections as areas for high-intensity development, with the attraction to developers being the volume of traffic. These development areas have a tendency to grow over time, she said.
Istenes said she has observed Springfield patterns and sees a tendency for commercial development to creep past its original boundaries. Because of this, she said she would suggest council look strongly at making the proposed development area a boundary to guard against large expanses of strip development.
“I do suggest that the existing residential on Sunshine [Street] is an asset to the city.”
Councilperson Heather Hardinger said having the development right across from a school was concerning to her, as cars would be in the residential streets and could pose a danger to students.
“I don’t know if this is the appropriate establishment for this neighborhood,” she said.
McGull expressed concern about traffic being blocked by customers waiting to turn in to the store from Jefferson Avenue.
“My experience with Springfieldians is they will block an intersection,” he said.
Twenty-one residents signed up to speak at the meeting, with mixed opinions about the proposed development.
Concerns included hours of operation, which are 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m., as well as noise from cars and from outdoor music played by the shop, lighting, new traffic in the neighborhood and possible congestion during school pickup and drop-off.
Chad Zickefoose, an engineer with the city, said a study at another Springfield 7 Brew showed peak hours would not coincide with school traffic.
Zickefoose said a traffic count at an existing Springfield 7 Brew facility found 776 vehicles visited the site in a day. Peak hours were 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with 38 customers during the 7 a.m. hour and 50 in the 8 a.m. hour.
Some residents worried the development in what is now vacant land surrounded by private homes at the southeast corner of the intersection would change the nature of their neighborhood.
Real estate agent Donna Hemann encouraged council to leave the area residential.
“Currently, this stretch of homes that is there provides safety, aesthetic integrity and a cohesive sense of place,” she said.
A local developer spoke in support of the proposed development. The site would employ 40-45 employees, said Curtis Jared of Jared Enterprises Inc., who noted his company has done work for 7 Brew. Jared added the stores’ buildings are manufactured in Springfield.
Mark Percival, an elder at Jefferson Avenue Baptist Church, which sold the property to developers for an undisclosed price, said the church supports the rezoning and does not foresee a negative traffic impact.
Some supporters of 7 Brew said disallowing the development would send a negative message to other businesses wanting to develop in Springfield.
Interviewed after the meeting, Reding said the project is right for the location.
“If you look at the city’s comprehensive plan, it clearly meets what that comprehensive plan calls for,” he said.
He added the city’s traffic experts have weighed in, and he has connected with Springfield Public Schools to learn more about safety concerns.
As Zickefoose said during the hearing, SPS provides bus service to those living south of Sunshine Street.
“The number of kids who walk is very small,” Reding said. “If council truly looks at the comprehensive plan as it was laid out for the direction of the city, and if they listen to the experts that the community pays to evaluate these things, they’ll support it.”
Council received the recommendations of its committee to commit the bulk of its American Rescue Plan Act funds.
More than 50 requests totaled over $210 million, and the committee suggested funding 16 of them for a total of $31.4 million. They are Cooper/Killian parks projects, at $7.3 million; Historic City Hall renovation, $4 million; Ozark Greenways Chadwick Flyer Trail, $3 million; Springfield Art Museum education wing, $3 million; Boys & Girls Club/FosterAdopt Connect teen center, $2 million; Restore SGF, $1 million; Missouri State University Grand Street underpass, $750,000; Ozarks Technical Community College airframe and powerplant maintenance facility, $750,000; Family Connects nursing visitation program for newborns and families, $650,000; citywide housing study, $500,000; Renew Jordan Creek stormwater project, $500,000; Springfield-Greene County Library District building renovations, $500,000; Ozark Empire Fairgrounds education center, $250,000; Burrell Behavioral Health mental health hotline, $100,000; and The Discovery Center of Springfield Inc. capital improvements, $50,000.
The committee recommends $7 million be set aside for homelessness and housing projects to be announced at a later date.
Other action items
417 Cocktails LLC moved; 7 Brew Coffee added its first shop in Lebanon; and Branson outlet store for Baltimore, Maryland-based sports apparel retailer Under Armour relocated.