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City Beat: Four-phase C-Street development OK’d by council

Plan set to transform 7.5 acres in north Springfield

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Springfield City Council approved a multiphase development for a 7.5-acre area on Commercial Street.

The approval of the council bill on April 8 followed a failed motion by Councilmember Monica Horton to require separate approval for each of the four phases of the development. That motion failed by a 6-3 vote of council, and the redevelopment plan passed 7-2, with Horton and Craig Hosmer opposing it.

The approval gave the go-ahead to a four-phase development by Commercial-Pacific Street Redevelopment Corp., headed by Titus Williams, president of Prosperiti Partners LLC.

Williams’ plan for the area extending south from East Commercial to Pacific Street includes mixed-use and townhome construction and a renovation of the Missouri Hotel. Some C-Street business owners who appeared at the March 25 public hearing had offered various concerns about the redevelopment plan, for which Williams was seeking a declaration of blight and approval for all four phases, as well as a 25-year tax abatement for the first phase.

Whether the project would include demolitions of existing buildings that could endanger the district’s historic designation was one of the chief concerns expressed. C-Street proponents did not object to the Pacific South Project, the first phase, which would provide immediate construction of 72 townhomes south of C-Street.

Amanda Ohlensehlen, director of economic vitality for the city, said approval of the four-phase plan would alter the process for demolitions in the area. She also confirmed that the buildings in line for demolition as part of the project do not contribute to the historic designation of the area – a concern raised by some C-Street business owners.

Ohlensehlen clarified that the council bill would approve only the tax abatement for the first phase and would require any future phases to be approved by council as either an amendment to the redevelopment plan or as a standalone redevelopment plan.

Hosmer raised concerns about the council bill’s process, which would approve an entire redevelopment plan while only moving forward with the first phase.

“There’s still unanswered questions about what the impact is on the historic district. There’s still questions about what the TIF buyout will be,” he said.

He added that there is no certainty that all phases of the project would happen.

Williams came onto the scene in the district with his purchase of the Missouri Hotel in 2017. In the seven years since that purchase, the building has stood vacant with Williams reporting that he was awaiting design approvals and of the granting of historic tax credits to begin work.

The Missouri Hotel is the third phase of the project, slated to begin this fall. Phase 2, the 540 E. Commercial Project, proposes new construction of a mixed-use building with ground-floor retail, restaurant and office areas, and Phase 4, the Pacific North Project, would build a 200-dwelling multifamily residential complex with ground-floor office and retail space.

Ohlensehlen said approval of the overall plan would help the financial feasibility of the project.

“It certainly impacts the applicant’s ability to seek financing or attract investment partners to the development,” she said.

Lake Springfield Plan accepted
Council formally accepted the Lake Springfield Plan at its meeting April 8.

The acceptance of the final plan for recreational and cultural development on 1,000 acres including Lake Springfield was a requirement of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, which funded development of the plan through a one-time $800,000 grant, using money from the American Rescue Plan Act and EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment.

The remaining $200,000 to fund the $1 million plan came from the Hatch Foundation, City Utilities of Springfield and the city’s Environmental Services Department.

Steve Prange of consulting firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. shared highlights from the plan, which calls for keeping the dam in place and maintaining the lake, rather than returning it to its original riverine state. He noted the dam is in excellent condition.

“At the end of the day, we think that leaving the dam in place is a really good decision for our community that leaves the lake in place and really sets the stage for the potential to use that as an asset,” he said.

The plan also includes a market assessment of what Springfield needs.

“Some of the things that we saw was a need for event space, for indoor-outdoor sports, recreation, convention center space, so all those are outlined in the planning,” he said.

The plan clears the way for public investment in any infrastructure that is needed to make the plan a reality, according to Prange.

“The most important piece in this is the funding mechanism to provide funding for any public assets that we can start to invest in to attract private development,” he said.

Prange said the plan allows the community to challenge itself to think outside the box.

“Sometimes you have to think big,” he said, adding that an inspirational vision is necessary for movement to happen.

Alyssa Lindsay, chair of the Greene County Environmental Advisory Board, expressed concern about the plan. She said she believes water quality has been misrepresented in planning, and she noted the lake is on an impaired list with the Department of Natural Resources.

“Any economic plan or any economic development needs a healthy system around it,” she said.

Hosmer noted that council was acknowledging receipt of the plan and not agreeing to any expenditure or development on the lake.

City Manager Jason Gage agreed, noting, “Generally, a master plan is a high visionary document – it’s a planning document. It’s not something that creates mandates or anything like that,” he said.

Council’s vote to accept the plan was unanimous.

Commission created
Council also took action to create the Citizens’ Commission on Community Investment, a group charged with making a recommendation on whether to pursue a local sales tax after the scheduled 2025 expiration of the three-quarter-cent Police and Fire Pension Sales Tax. That tax currently generates some $45 million per year exclusively for the pension fund.

The expiring tax was passed by voters in November 2009 and renewed for two additional five-year terms. Its purpose was to fund the Police and Fire Pension Fund, which at the time of the original passage of the tax was facing a shortfall of $200 million.

The city continues to face an ongoing pension obligation of $3.5 million-$5 million annually.

The commission will recommend by June 30 whether the city should seek a new three-quarter-cent tax in the November election. At a Jan. 9 meeting, council put forth its priorities for use of tax funds as public safety, Forward SGF comprehensive plan initiatives and continued funding of pension obligations.

Co-chairs of the committee are Phyllis Ferguson, business owner and former mayor pro tem, and Tom Prater, former member of council and physician. Other members are Logan Aguirre, Christina Angle, Kevin Ausburn, Alice Barber, Brent Brown, Megan Buchbinder, Jerome W. Compton, Teresa Coyan, Orin Cummings, Chad Davis, Leslie Forrester, Denise Fredrick, Brendan Griesemer, Bill Hennessey, Sandra Huston, Winter Kinne, Andrew Lear, Sid Needham, Eric Pauly, Steve Prange, Pete Radecki, Jacob Ruder, Krisi Schell, Jeff Schrag, Rusty Worley, Andrew Zinke and current Councilmembers Matt Simpson and Abe McGull.

Other action items

  • The rezoning of 3.3 acres of property at 1330 S. Kansas Ave., requested by Eoff Land Trust, was approved. The rezoning was to low-density multifamily residential from residential single family with conditional overlay. The applicant intends to build a multifamily housing development at a density of 11 dwelling units per acre.
  • Council approved an agreement to receive $6 million in Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funds from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to replace the Main Avenue bridge over Jordan Creek. A city spokesperson confirmed that the city has not yet reached an agreement with the Hotel of Terror haunted attraction, which occupies the site where the bridge is located.
  • A grant agreement was approved to accept $400,000 in Transportation Enhancement Funds from the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to build a 10-foot-wide trail along LeCompte Road from Eastgate Avenue and Division Street north to the BNSF Railroad.
  • Council held hearings on several zoning issues. One was a 0.1 acre (a 25-foot-wide strip) at 2646 W. Walnut St., to highway commercial from single-family residential. The zoning is currently divided down the center of an existing house on the property. The applicant is Seth Holdings LLC. Another was 9.45 acres in the 2200 block of North Belcrest Avenue to heavy manufacturing from highway commercial to prepare for a sale of the property. The applicant is 3G Investment Group LLC. A rezoning of 3.5 acres at 1735 E. Valley Water Mill Road for applicant Triple S Properties Inc. would allow a 72-unit, three-story multifamily apartment building to be constructed. Residents were notified of the plans when the planned development was approved 18 years ago, in 2006, according to city staff. Two residents spoke at the meeting to object to the plan and to the destruction of wildlife habitat that had already taken place there.
  • Another rezoning would make way for a distillery business on 0.42 acres at College Street and Nettleton Avenue along historic Route 66. The applicant is Lorisa Kirkpatrick LLC.


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