The city’s Planning & Zoning Commission gave its stamp of approval last night to a rezoning case that’s been years in the making – and met with neighborhood resistance.
Commissioners voted 7-1 to approve a rezoning request of a planned development on 4 acres at 3535 S. Lone Pine Ave. Developer Mitch Jenkins of Elevation Development Co. is planning a mixed-use development comprising retail, office, restaurant space and two multifamily buildings. The request is now headed to Springfield City Council for final review.
The project has not been favored by Galloway Village residents since its introduction in 2018. In June 2019, the project was at the center of a council debate after the Galloway Village Neighborhood Association applied for a historic designation at the site without Jenkins’ consent, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Council ruled in favor of Jenkins, the property owner.
The site where Jenkins plans to build includes a parcel that was once the Sequiota Store/Treadway’s General Store & Gas Station, built in 1929. Galloway residents were concerned about losing the historical building, which sits across from Sequiota Park.
Jenkins said at the commission meeting that he and project architect H Design Group LLC have redesigned the project since a neighborhood webinar meeting in May to accommodate concerns of density, height and aesthetics of the development. A statement from H Design Group indicated the revised project reduces the scale of the buildings planned along Lone Pine Avenue to two stories and the building height to a maximum of 45 feet. This lowered the density of the multifamily development from 116 units to 100 units, which is roughly 25 units per acre, though city guidelines allow up to 27 units per acre.
Jenkins said the group used the Galloway Redevelopment Plan as a guide in redesigning the project, which has yet to be named. The plan includes parameters for preservation of significant structures, height and buffer requirements, and increased space for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Our vision is to create a quality, diverse and vibrant community – a community where people of all ages, races and backgrounds can enjoy,” he said.
Seven people spoke in opposition of the project, many citing concerns for increased traffic on Lone Pine Avenue and the aesthetics of the project. There were three people who spoke in favor of the development.
Marcie Kirkup, president of the neighborhood association, said the group doesn’t think the revised project should be approved. She cited concerns for the size, scale and placement, and its impact on traffic and the nearby Sequiota Park.
“We must protect the park, we must protect the waterways, and we must protect our neighbors in this association from unintended consequences in this density (and) of the scale of this development,” she said. “We are not opposed to development, but this is beyond what we would consider to be reasonable and acceptable here.”
Local developer Matt O’Reilly shared several reasons for his concerns, including the height and density of the project. O’Reilly’s Green Circle Projects LLC developed Quarry Town, a mixed-use development also on Lone Pine Avenue. Quarry Town is zoned to allow 12-20 units per acre, according to past SBJ reporting.
“I speak for many in the development community in Galloway community when I say that this developer has decided to stand apart from the group and set his own agenda. While I applaud the project’s perseverance, it must stop and it should not be approved,” he said.
O’Reilly developed a four-story apartment complex in the mixed-use Quarry Town development with 100 apartments.
Steve Bowen of Coryell Collaborative Group, which is developer and owner of Township 28, shared concerns with the commission on behalf of President Sam M. Coryell. Township 28 comprises 138 units and also is zoned with 12-20 units per acre, according to past SBJ reporting.
“We share some of the concerns of the residents. We feel the … entire development needs to adhere to the fabric of the community,” he said. “If staff feels the development meets the requirements of Planning and Zoning … and the neighborhood, we would be in support of moving the project forward.”
Speaking in support of the project was Anne Baker, former owner of the Sequiota Bike Shop that is included in the development plan. She said Jenkins has asked her to reopen her shop at the new development.
“Even putting the possibility of reopening the Sequiota Bike Shop aside, I still support Mitch moving forward with this project … as someone who lives right down the road,” she said. “Mitch has a genuine passion to make this development in keeping with the feel and the aesthetics of the Galloway area.”
Brandon Biskup, project architect, told the commissioners they’ve heard “selective information being used to create opposition.”
Biskup said the development group has worked to ensure the project fits within the policy guidelines, and representatives have discussed the plans with city staff including Springfield Director of Quality of Place Initiatives Tim Rosenbury. City Planning Manager Bob Hosmer said at the meeting he and city staff believe the planned project does meet Galloway's guidelines.
Commissioner Natalie Broekhoven cast the lone opposing vote and Commissioner David Shuler was absent. City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the measure at its Aug. 10 meeting.
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