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Council approves next step in Heer's plan

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After an Aug. 23 public hearing and discussion that lasted two and a half hours, Heer’s developer Kevin McGowan received City Council’s approval of the term sheet and financing plan for the renovation of the historic landmark.

The unanimous vote gives the city the go-ahead to issue a letter of commitment to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, agreeing to issue a $2 million small business development loan to the project’s developers. It also allows the city to request a $1 million loan from the Missouri Development Finance Board, which will be funneled through the city. The $3 million is expected to fill the final gap of an elaborate financing package for the Heer’s redevelopment and will give McGowan the opportunity to apply for a HUD-backed loan for the largest, $11.8-million-piece of the puzzle.

“The fact that we have an opportunity to move this forward – and I do want to stress opportunity, because there’s still a lot of work to go here – is remarkable,” McGowan said, noting development projects across the state have stalled because of the economy.

McGowan’s next step is to submit an application and related paperwork to HUD before an Oct. 6 deadline.

“That’s a hard deadline,” said Mary Lilly Smith, economic development director for the city, adding that it would be difficult for McGowan to obtain HUD’s backing after that date.

Once the HUD application has been filed, Smith said, concurrent closings on financing should be complete by March 1, which is when construction can begin. That would put Heer’s on schedule to open in spring 2012, she said.

Read more about the Heer’s project and the Aug. 23 City Council meeting in Springfield Business Journal’s Aug. 30 print edition.
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