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Downtown building catches fire

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Last edited 1:51 p.m., May 12, 2020

A downtown building that's part of plans for an IDEA Commons expansion caught fire this morning.

Springfield Fire Department Chief David Pennington tweeted a video of the scene at 424 N. Boonville Ave., showing a cloud of smoke emitting from the building. He could not be reached for comment by deadline on the cause of the fire and the extent of damages to the building.

The building is owned by The Vecino Group LLC. It is central to the company and Missouri State University's plans to expand the school's IDEA Commons area to the tune of $55 million, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

The building formerly housed nightclubs Touche and The Edge, and it has an exterior mural paying homage to its days as Ballew Saw & Tool.

Located at the intersection of Boonville Avenue and Phelps Street, the building across from Jordan Valley Innovation Center is slated for demolition to make way for a planned 100,000-square-foot office building.

Mat Burton, Vecino Group’s president of public-private partnerships, said the plan already had been to demolish the building prior to the fire.

"We’re continuing to work on preleasing for the new office building and will have more information to share on timing as we get further through that process," he said via email.

The city of Springfield's Tax Increment Financing Commission on May 4 approved a tax increment financing plan for the IDEA Commons expansion, according to past SBJ reporting.

Plans call for an expanded JVIC building, a public parking garage and an office building developed by The Vecino Group, as well as public improvements to sewer, stormwater infrastructure and roads. Burton said construction on the JVIC expansion should start by mid-June.

Roughly $6.2 million will be eligible for TIF reimbursement to MSU and the city, according to past reporting.

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