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Forward SGF report sheds light on city’s future

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Civic and business leaders yesterday began examining a report on Springfield’s future prepared by Chicago-based Houseal Lavigne Associates LLC. Quality of place is identified as a major theme.

Houseal Lavigne Associates, which the city hired last year for its 20-year comprehensive plan called Forward SGF, identified challenges and opportunities in the report presented at the Jan. 28 City Council luncheon. The city’s Planning and Development Department and the Forward SGF Advisory Team met with council members to discuss the initial findings.

Placemaking permeated multiple areas of the report, with the Forward SGF planning process taking a place-based approach to land use and development.

“The intent of the Forward SGF comprehensive plan is to preserve Springfield’s established neighborhoods and commercial districts, while encouraging reinvestment and new development that provides for a sustainable future,” the Houseal Lavigne Associates report reads. “The place-based approach will allow the city and its partners to effectively plan and manage existing unique areas and define desired growth and development across the city and in adjacent areas of Greene County.”

The report identifies 12 so-called placetypes that currently exist within Springfield as a means to classify the city and show potential areas of improvement.

The placetypes are:
• airport;
• commercial corridor;
• commercial and light industrial;
• edge neighborhood;
• established neighborhood;
• industrial;
• institutional and employment center;
• mixed residential;
• mixed-use;
• neighborhood node;
• regional green space; and
• rural and undeveloped.

The report identified commercial corridor issues, including a poor appearance of areas such as Glenstone Avenue. It’s described in the report to “generally lack landscaping and surface parking lots dominate the landscape.” The report also identifies a lack of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, poor land use and transportation strategies, and shallow lot depths in commercial corridors.

Projects such as the Grant Avenue Parkway Trail Connection Project, funded by a $21 million federal grant and $5.2 million in matching city funds, is among the bright spots for the city’s future identified in the report, along with hospitality additions such as Hotel Vandivort’s expansion and the art museum’s master plan.

The first of a series of public workshops was held last night. Two others are scheduled today: 2 p.m. at University Plaza Hotel and 6:30 p.m. at Relics Event Center.

“The visioning phase of the process is one of key community input opportunities,” Forward SGF Project Coordinator Randall Whitman said in the release. “It’s critical that we get great representation from across the city, including area businesses, employers, the workforce, students [and] neighborhood leaders, as well as long-time and short-time residents of Springfield.”

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