Last edited 3:56 p.m., Jan. 14, 2019
City officials have issued a request for qualifications to a select number of development firms for 200 acres the city owns in southwest Springfield.
The RFQ letter, dated Dec. 13, 2018, was sent to 14 firms, Springfield Business Journal has learned, “seeking a consultant, to work as an extension of city staff, to produce a master plan and market analysis.” A copy of the letter was sent anonymously to SBJ’s newsroom this week.
Signed by Environmental Services Director Errin Kemper, the letter identified today as the deadline for the firms to respond.
“We’re only in the investigation stage,” Assistant Environmental Services Director Ron Petering said this morning. “This land was acquired for specific purposes.”
Petering is listed as the contact for the RFQ. He said the 200 acres are northwest of the James River Freeway and West Bypass interchange. The city already operates the nearby Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant, John Twitty Energy Center and a salt storage facility shared with Greene County.
According to the letter, “the department is considering use of the property to develop various offices and facilities to support their long-term mission.” It goes on to say the master plan would identify the developable areas, divide them into tracts, determine the potential marketability and recommend roadway access.
Petering said the city acquired the various tracts of land decades ago.
“We’re looking for intelligence as to what some options will be,” he said, noting the city is not selecting a developer for the land. “We’re trying to become more educated if this land develops, for any purpose. As we do that, at least we’re not limiting ourselves or being blind to any other opportunities for use of the ground.”
One of the possibilities would impact the Environmental Services Department, which Petering acknowledged has space needs. Outside of its presence at the city’s treatment plants, other maintenance and engineering staff are located across four buildings in town.
“We’re pretty spread out,” he said.
City staff discussions have floated out the possibility of using a portion of the land to store Environmental Services’ trucks, along with office space. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has a need for an animal shelter and the site also is being considered for that, Petering said.
“That’s the point of the study – to look at what type of use makes sense,” he said. “If an office makes sense, then that at least opens our discussion from a long-term standpoint.”
Petering was unaware of how many firms have responded so far, but he expects to receive three to five. Then, a selection team of city staff members would review responses and rank them, he said, adding an interview stage may be part of the process.
A company likely will be selected by the end of the month, he said, at which time the scope of work and a firm price for its services will be determined. Petering stressed expenditures would come out of the Environmental Services enterprise fund and not the city’s general fund.
“We do not have a specific budget number that we’re limiting ourselves to, at the moment,” he said, adding a six-figure amount would be above expectations for the RFQ. “Obviously, we’ll want to be prudent in developing the scope of work and fee that’s determined.”
The scope of work and price likely won’t be known until February or March, and Petering expects the master plan and market analysis process would probably last into fall.
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