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City Beat: City pinpoints C-Street TIF improvements

Battlefield and Lone Pine rezoning bill is tabled again

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Springfield City Council on Oct. 5 held a first reading on a proposal for public improvements on Commercial Street funded by tax increment financing.

The ordinance would amend the city’s budget by $520,000 to assign funds already collected in the TIF district. City staff and council members held a meeting in August asking C-Street stakeholders to prioritize the funding.

As of June 30, the TIF balance was $532,474, according to city documents.

The Commercial Street TIF Plan approved in 2008 covers redevelopment work in the district between Grant Avenue and Clay Street, according to city documents.

During the council meeting, Springfield Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner identified the top three projects for the TIF monies: parking lot and alleyway improvements, and the creation of a fund for facade loans to property owners on Blaine Street.

“Right now, the biggest issue on Commercial Street is parking,” Kerner said. “All of the projects in some way or another address parking.”

The parking lot at Jefferson Avenue and Blaine would be resurfaced, restriped and landscaped with an approximate cost of $250,000, according to city documents.

The alleyway would connect the parking lot at Jefferson and Blaine with C-Street through a decorated pedestrian walkway at an approximate cost of $100,000.

The Blaine Street Facade Loan Program would go toward improving and preserving historic structures with $120,000 in funds available for up to four $30,000 loans, Kerner said.

The city already approved $50,000 in improvements to Tickle Alley, which runs north-south between Commercial and Blaine on the west side, which would commit nearly all of the Commercial Street TIF funds for the projects.

Kerner said the projects would take between nine months and a year to complete once the design phase is finished. Council is scheduled to vote on the TIF allocations Oct. 22.

Battlefield rezoning tabled
The rezoning of 8 acres at 2700 E. Battlefield Road was again tabled as Councilman Matthew Simpson put forward another amendment to further restrict the use of the property at Lone Pine Avenue and Battlefield Road.

Council unanimously passed the amendment and will accept additional public comment during the next meeting, slated Oct. 22.

The issue has been in front of council since Aug. 13 and has received pushback from residents in the Galloway neighborhood.

“We did amend this at the last meeting in an attempt to address the concerns the neighborhood expressed and concerns that we had on council about the development,” Simpson said before making the motion to table. “I don’t believe the amendment went far enough in review.”

The new amendment only allows uses for art galleries, museums, libraries, churches, catering, day care centers, general and medical offices, personal services and retail sales with no single retailer larger than 5,000 square feet, according to city documents. A revision to the rezoning request adopted at the Sept. 24 council meeting mainly prohibited retail structures exceeding 14,000 square feet.

The latest amendment also prohibits all fuel sale businesses, while previously only 24-hour gas stations were prohibited. 

Briarcliff Investments LLC owns the property and intends to sell the parcel to an unnamed developer for a proposed medical office. Representatives have said the land sale is contingent on rezoning. 

Scenic rezoning
Council heard a concurrent annexation and rezoning of an acre at 4244 S. Farm Road 137 made at the owner’s request.

Kenneth Medley plans to sell his property if rezoned to an office district from single-family residential.

Located off the southeast corner of West Republic Road and South Scenic Avenue, the rezoning would allow for office development with a maximum building height of 35 feet. Also, a minimum 15-foot buffer yard and stormwater detention would be required.

The majority of property in the area is zoned general retail, according to a city zoning map.

“The southeast corner of Republic and Scenic, just immediately north of this tract, is already zoned for office,” said Mary Lilly Smith, the city’s planning and development director.

A neighbor of the property, Vickie Dunakin, voiced to council her concern about adding another office building in an area that already has plenty of vacancies.

“We have gone and looked at and counted all of the office and/or retail places that are within four blocks east and four blocks west of Scenic along Republic Road, as well as one block north and one block south of Republic Road,” she said.

Dunakin counted 18 properties currently listed for lease in the area.

“To add another office into the zoning would seem to be way overkill in our opinion,” Dunakin said, also noting concerns of diminishing greenspace and “light pollution” from commercial structures.

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