A trio of retail spaces will be vacated at Farmers Park in June with the planned departures of clothing retailer Staxx, children’s boutique Jellybeans and The Press Coffee & Juice Bar.
The businesses are among a handful of tenants that have announced or relocated from the $22 million south-side mixed-use development that opened in 2014. Ellecor Design and Gifts, the first retailer to open in Farmers Park, departed in January to a renovated home in the Rountree neighborhood at 623 S. Pickwick Ave. Studio 417 Salo´n is now in Aundria Plaza at 4303 S. National Ave. after leaving the development last year, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
With the planned exits, five storefronts will have left the development since 2018.
Farmers Park developer Green Circle Projects LLC has been preparing for the retail changes and isn’t concerned about the vacancies, said CEO Matt O’Reilly.
“We’re setting up those retail spaces with more residential and office suites,” he said, declining to reveal specific plans or potential occupants.
“We don’t intend to release these spaces for retail. We don’t want to rely on retail.”
O’Reilly said retail shopping, including service-based retailers and restaurants, accounts for about 20% of leasable space and 20% of lease revenue in the development. Residential and office use makes up the remaining 80%, he said, declining to disclose revenue.
“By far, residential and office use are our engine room,” he said.
Residential occupancy is currently at 98.5% with a waiting list – at rental rates of $1,035-$1,610. The Cast co-working offices in the development, comprising two floors in separate Farmers Park buildings, are both full, he added.
According to a listing on Loopnet.com, total rentable building area at Farmers Park is 37,000 square feet, as of May 17. Window clings posted on the vacant spaces in the development indicate at least 12,500 square feet is targeting retail tenants.
Noting Farmers Park was an innovative development upon opening five years ago, O’Reilly said retail is no longer thriving on foot traffic and is more destination based. The illusive foot traffic that retail relies on is much more likely to be shopping online, he said, pointing to the continued growth of retail giants Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
First-quarter Walmart e-commerce sales in the U.S. were up 37% year-over-year, according to the company’s most recent earnings report. Amazon reported first-quarter sales increased 17% to $59.7 billion.
Making a move
While declining to disclose sales, Meghan Chambers, owner of Staxx and Jellybeans, said revenue increases at her businesses are driven by online purchases, as well as such products as jewelry at Staxx and tween clothing and toys at Jellybeans.
Her departure from Farmers Park is prompted, in part, by the need for more space, as the shops operate out of roughly 5,000 square feet in the development. She plans to move to Brentwood Center North at the end of the month when her five-year lease is up. The two stores are expected to open in mid-June in a combined 7,500 square feet at 2630-32 S. Glenstone Ave. She declined to disclose lease terms with Jared Commercial, which has a higher asking lease rate than Farmers Park.
For Staxx and Jellybeans, Chambers said the companies and its employees are “recreating, reinventing, taking what we’ve learned the last 15-plus years and really fine-tuning it, whether it be with services or layout.”
“We really worked hard to encompass all those things that we think we can build upon,” she said, “whether that’s making things easier to shop or more efficient.”
The Press Coffee & Juice Bar, which has operated in Farmers Park since the development’s 2014 launch, also is heading to the Brentwood Center, with plans to open in late June at 2710 S. Glenstone Ave., said owner Alice Oh.
“It’s just the better move for us. It’s a good fit,” she said, pointing to her new neighbors including Orangetheory Fitness and Sumits Hot Yoga.
Oh signed a seven-year lease for undisclosed terms with Jared Commercial to occupy 1,750 square feet between Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House and Gloss Nail Lounge LLC.
JaredCommercial.com lists an asking lease price of $22 per square foot annually. Comparatively, O’Reilly said leases at Farmers Park range from $16.50 to $19 per square foot annually. In general, he said the development gets much better net revenue from the office and residential segments.
“We live in an unprecedented era where the top floors of buildings are now worth more than the bottom floors,” he said. “We will focus on use-types that are more stable and offer better revenue than consumer product retail.”
Still, he stressed Farmers Park is not moving away from restaurants and services.
Restaurants currently operating in the development are Progress and its upstairs bar Reverie, which both opened last year, and Aviary Cafe and Creperie LLC. Hudson Hawk Barber & Shop and European Wax Center are service-oriented retailers operating in Farmers Park.
O’Reilly said he’s also glad to have a uniquely local business like Five Pound Apparel LLC calling Farmers Park home. The clothing and home accessories retailer has been in Farmers Park since 2014.
Owned by Ben and Brina Thomas since 2017, the company has a second store downtown at 412 South Ave. Brina Thomas said the couple negotiated a new three-year lease in Farmers Park for an undisclosed rate in 2017, which is current until the end of 2020. She added Five Pound Apparel has no intention of leaving either of its stores at this time.
“We love having two locations in Springfield. It appeals to different demographics,” she said.
The downtown store targets college students, while the Farmers Park spot is more accessible to families.
Another part of the appeal of Farmers Park is the Farmers Market of the Ozarks, Thomas said, which is held year-round on Saturdays.
“We love being near the farmers market,” she said, estimating half of those who go to the market drop in at Five Pound Apparel on Saturdays. “Our location is pretty much right at the entrance to the market.”
Chambers also singled out the farmers market, one of many events offered at the development throughout the year, as a draw for a variety of customers every week.
“It’s a beautiful development and we’ll truly miss the farmers market here,” she said. “But we ran out of space here to accommodate growth and this new space allows that and we’re excited to be out there.”
While she’s days away from moving her stores from the south side, Chambers said she’s enjoyed her time in Farmers Park. She’s confident the development will fill its vacancies.
“I have no doubt they will find businesses to suit their needs for these spots,” she said. “They have a great innovative team.”
As part of the $168 million bond issue voters approved in April 2019, Springfield Public Schools is developing an early childhood center near Carver Middle School.
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