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Gordmans relocating to former Toys R Us site

City building permits show infill work totaling $77,000 over the last month

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At the intersection of Battlefield Road and Fremont Avenue, 87,000 square feet of retail space currently sits unused between two buildings.

The former homes of Toys R Us and Heritage Cafeteria have been vacant since those businesses left. But one property is showing more signs of life than the other.

Retailer Gordmans is the reason why.

“We’re moving into the old Toys R Us location,” said Gordmans spokeswoman Sydney Edens.

Edens said the company is planning to open at 1425 E. Battlefield Road the morning of March 21. Gordmans currently operates at 3303 S. Campbell Ave.

Edens couldn’t confirm the reason for the move or what construction work has been completed at the Battlefield Road property. The exterior of the building was covered by scaffolding and tarps on Feb. 28. A Jan. 25 building permit identified Richard Werner of Werner & Associates Architects LC as applicant for the interior infill work.

The Springfield store closed in June 2018, when Toys R Us shuttered all of its locations.

Filings with the city of Springfield show three building permits for infill work totaling $77,000 over a month span in January and February. The property is owned by Finley River Realty Inc., a subsidiary of John Morris Co., according to Greene County assessor records.

Kitty-corner from there, the former home of Heritage Cafeteria has been on the market since Tillman Redevelopment acquired the 1364 E. Battlefield Road property about a year ago.

“It changed hands a couple of times,” said Paul Tillman, property manager at Tillman Redevelopment.

Tillman said he’s talked to several interested parties. It’s currently listed on Tillman Redevelopment’s website for lease at $12,800 per month.

Tillman said the tenant search process has been “slow and methodical.”

“Honestly, a year is not that long in commercial real estate,” he said.

The company currently has 16 commercial properties available for lease listed on its website.

InSite Real Estate LLC bought the Heritage property in October 2016 from Don Evans, and at the time had plans to redevelop the 1.75-acre-site.

Before its closing in August 2016, Heritage Cafeteria was known for its home-style cooking and reached a peak of four locations during the 1980s, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Its closing was due to higher costs, changing economic times and an opportunity for the former owners to retire.

Tillman said a property sale also is possible.

“We’re open to whatever,” he said.

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