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Chris and Monica Guest co-own Maria's with Monica's parents. The Guests were planning to open a second Maria's location in south Springfield, but opted for expansion.
Chris and Monica Guest co-own Maria's with Monica's parents. The Guests were planning to open a second Maria's location in south Springfield, but opted for expansion.

Construction work buzzes downtown

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Busy construction workers in downtown Springfield signify tenants on the move.

A new restaurant will be opening on the square, a Mexican-fare staple is expanding, and offices are taking shape.

The Blue Bull
The 3,500-square-foot space at the northeast corner of the square best known as Riad’s has been leased for a new restaurant, said property owner Allen Casey, a Springfield architect.

Wilhoit Properties commercial broker Bart Pinkerton said he and partner Mike Greenlee last week signed a four-year lease with two three-year options. Greenlee, a benefits adviser at Ollis & Co., said the casual-dining restaurant, The Blue Bull, is scheduled to open July 12 at 105 Park Central Square, where Riad’s restaurant operated since February 2004 and Martini Proper briefly had its doors open.

“We’ll be about three steps above a sports bar but two steps below Metropolitan Grill,” Greenlee said, comparing their plans to former downtown restaurant Harpo’s.

“Everything on the menu will be under $10,” he added. “At night, we’ll turn into a college bar.”

Maria’s Mexican
Meanwhile, Maria’s Mexican Restaurant is doubling in size.

The 2,100-square-foot, 80-seat restaurant at 406 South Ave., is taking over 2,275 square feet to the immediate south.

Chris and Monica Guest, and Monica’s parents, Ben and Mary Blades, own the restaurant. Chris Guest said a restaurant was about to open in the building adjacent to Maria’s at the same time the Guests were considering a second location in south Springfield. When the other restaurant’s deal fell through, the couple saw an opportunity and bought the building next door from James Tillman.

Guest declined to disclose the purchase price, but said Maria’s is awaiting approval for a $300,000 U.S. Small Business Administration-guaranteed loan through Guaranty Bank. Guest said a target completion date of August has been set, and he anticipates being closed for four days while finishing both sides of the restaurant.

The Guests have owned Maria’s South Avenue building for four years, he said, though the restaurant has operated there since August 2001. Maria’s opened in April 1997 at 319 1/2 E. Walnut St., a 7-foot wide by 70-foot deep space.

Sensory Integration
Sensory Integration Inc., an audiovisual services and equipment company, has purchased 309 South Ave. from Dan and Mike Chiles.

Renovations have begun, and the company hopes to move into the ground floor by August, owner Darren Smith said. “We needed more retail space,” he said, pointing to the audiovisual equipment for home theaters and corporate systems.

In business since 2002 and working from a Greene County shop near Pleasant Hope, Smith said usual clients are businesses, schools, churches and individuals.

The building’s upstairs space will be available for business conferences, training functions, weddings, receptions and parties. Smith said the space will be called Veridian Events, and AV and sound equipment and kitchen facilities will be available for use.

Smith bought the building for $532,000 using an SBA-guaranteed loan through Rural Missouri Inc. Sensory Integration also received a $200,000 SBA-guaranteed loan from Commerce Bank in June 2009 for the store.

Smith also is seeking historic preservation federal and state tax credits and economic development state tax credits through the Rebuilding Communities Tax Credit Program, which rewards businesses that relocate or build in distressed communities.

Malkmus Law and Penmac
Work has begun on what will be the Malkmus Law Firm LLC building at 305 Park Central West and construction is ongoing at the new Penmac building.

Malkmus Law Firm leases 5,600 square feet in the Great Southern office building, 430 South Ave., and has purchased a building on the west side of the square formerly owned by the Ozark Empire Fleet Reserve Association.

Firm owner Deborah Malkmus said the 7,200-square-foot project is expected to be complete by mid-September.

Malkmus said a downtown location is important because copy and architectural services as well as the courthouses are within walking distance.

Penmac officials are targeting a late-summer completion of its 4,352-square-foot, $500,000 building at 435 S. Patton Ave.[[In-content Ad]]


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