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City Beat: Developers pitch first commercial project for Grant Avenue Parkway

City Council plans to vote Aug. 22 on Loose Goose

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The first commercial development project along the Grant Avenue Parkway is under consideration by Springfield City Council, as developers seek rezoning approval to bring a $1 million coffee shop concept to life.

The development group, GDL Enterprises LLC, wants to open its proposed project, dubbed Loose Goose, at the southwest corner of Grand Street and Grant Avenue. The concept, which was presented to council at its Aug. 8 meeting, comprises a coffee shop with indoor seating and drive-thru, a food truck parking area with outdoor canopy-covered seating, green space for yard games, pickleball courts and an outdoor walk-up bar. 

GDL Enterprises owns roughly 1.5 acres of land that once housed a gas station, and company officials are requesting rezoning to a planned development. It currently is zoned as Grant Avenue Parkway District, Subdistrict E, which does not allow drive-thru restaurants and package liquor stores, according to city documents. 

Susan Istenes, the city’s director of planning and development, told council the request is inconsistent with the recommendations of the Grant Avenue Parkway corridor plan and the Grant Avenue Parkway District. The plan and district support a compact, mixed-use development. A mixed-use building is characterized as a multistory structure which accommodates nonresidential uses on the ground floor and residential or nonresidential uses on upper floors, she said. 

“The idea is to have services that are oriented to the residents that would live in this subdistrict in a mixed-use type of development,” she said, noting city staff recommends denial of the zoning request.

However, city officials said the Planning and Zoning Commission voted last month in favor of the application. The project is the first commercial development application in the Grant Avenue Parkway district, said City Manager Jason Gage. 

Andrew Doolittle represented the developers at the meeting and identified Willie Grega and Cameron LaBarr as his partners in GDL Enterprises. The trio owns the property and is teaming up with local business owners Josh Widner and Michelle Billionis on the project. Widner co-owns Good Spirits Concepts LLC, through which he’s involved in multiple food and beverage concepts, including The Golden Girl Rum Club and Best of Luck Beer Hall. Billionis is owner of The Coffee Ethic LLC and co-owns Cherry Picker Package and Fare with Widner. 

“The Loose Goose project is going to be a catalyst site for future development similar to the way that Cherry and Pickwick developed,” Doolittle said to council, referring to the Rountree neighborhood. “It started out with food and beverage industries and businesses and then density followed. We feel like the Grant Avenue Parkway can build out in the same fashion.”

Doolittle told Springfield Business Journal after the meeting that Loose Goose is estimated to cost roughly $1 million. H Design Group LLC is architect for the project, which currently has no general contractor.

At the meeting, Doolittle said the project is designed as a neighborhood hub for the Fassnight and West Central neighborhoods. In his presentation to council, he noted the project has letters of support from the Fassnight Neighborhood Association, West Central Neighborhood Alliance and Better Block SGF, an organization intent on improving urban areas viewed as underused or inactive.

“I like the recreational component of it. There’s a part of me that really agrees this will be a great connection point for the neighborhood,” Councilperson Monica Horton said, adding the support of two neighborhood associations is a plus for the project.

Doolittle addressed council questions regarding the development’s design, which includes a 1,500-square-foot coffee shop, 280-square-foot bar and 33 parking spaces. He said the development team looked at the project “a million different ways,” including a three- or four-story mixed-use building, construction budgeting and rental projections. 

“It fell really short of feasibility at this location at this time,” he said. “That’s the primary reason we didn’t opt to go that route.”

While the West Central Neighborhood Alliance approved of the project, Brandon Jensen, the group’s president, said at the meeting he thinks the single-story commercial drive-thru operation falls short of the vision for the district. If approved, he said it would set a precedent along the corridor for future similar single-story drive-thru projects.

Council is expected to vote on the rezoning request Aug. 22.

Loan approval
Council unanimously approved a $300,000 loan for Nordic Landing, an affordable housing development planned for 810 W. Catalpa St., adjoining the Grant Avenue Parkway corridor. The $9 million project will have 44 units of one or two bedrooms, according to past SBJ reporting.

City staff said the developer, DHTC Development LLC, is coordinating with the Missouri Housing and Development Commission for a share of the city’s Home funds. The city’s participation is a $300,000 loan at 0.75% interest amortized over 20 years with monthly payments from the developer.

Gage told council he doesn’t have a timetable for when the properties currently on the site will be demolished, noting the project involves state and federal agencies.

“We’re working with the developer to work through the guidance from those agencies to figure out how to move this just as fast as we can,” he said. “Certainly, demolition of the existing structures is the first step that needs to happen.”

Storage facility debate
At its Aug. 22 meeting, council will consider a conditional use permit for a proposed self-service storage facility at 2960 E. Allen Place, near Quarry Town Apartments in Galloway Village. Coryell Collaborative Group seeks to build a climate-controlled, 188-unit structure. Several members of the public, including those in the Galloway Village Neighborhood Association and representatives of Quarry Town Apartments owner Green Circle Projects LLC, spoke against the project.

Sam Coryell, president of Coryell Collaborative Group, said the site is low profile and the project would have little traffic or impact on the neighborhood.

“This is a feature, a service that would be used and appreciated in this area,” he said, adding its size and aesthetics were designed with Galloway Village in mind.

Jamie Thomas, director of operations with Green Circle Projects, said the project doesn’t align with the village feel in Galloway. The company surveyed Quarry Town residents, who Thomas said overwhelmingly replied they didn’t want storage units behind them.

“Just for safety, I don’t see how lighting can be reduced and still adequately light the entire perimeter of that building,” she said.

While city staff recommend approval, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted last month to deny the permit request.

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