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The iconic cup remains in front of the Solo Cup Co. building at 1100 N. Glenstone Ave. that Warren Davis Properties is purchasing.
The iconic cup remains in front of the Solo Cup Co. building at 1100 N. Glenstone Ave. that Warren Davis Properties is purchasing.

Historic cup plant was 'showplace facility'

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Solo Cup Co.’s announcement that it will close its Springfield plant brings the six industrial companies to set up shop in Springfield in the early 1950s down to three still in operation.

The company’s forerunner, Lily-Tulip, announced in 1951 that a $4 million plant would be built.

Lily-Tulip’s plans paved the way for five major manufacturers to come to Springfield: Kraft, Dayco, Zenith, Royal-McBee and Litton, according to Springfield-Greene County Library records. Kraft and Dayco continue to operate in Springfield and Litton, now known as Simclar Interconnect Technologies, runs a plant in Ozark.

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Anderson called the massive 940,000-square-foot Solo Cup building an icon.

“When it was built, it was truly a showplace manufacturing facility,” Anderson said. “It used to be one of our major employers. Not too many years ago it was more than 1,000 employees.

“The icon is the big cup, of course. A lot of people know Springfield, Mo., because of the big cup in front of that manufacturing facility,” he said.

Lily-Tulip sold the plant to Owens-Illinois in 1968, when it became the company’s Lily division, and the plant was sold again in 1981 to a newly formed company that took the Lily-Tulip name,
according to library records.

At that time, it became Lily-Tulip Corp. again. In 1989, Sweetheart Cup Co. bought Lily-Tulip Corp. In 2004, Solo Cup Co. acquired SF Holdings, the parent company of Sweetheart Cup.

The early 1950s push for manufacturing plants came partially as a result of a severe multiyear drought that shut down family farms, sending many farmers to Springfield to look for work, according to John Sellars, executive director of The History Museum for Springfield-Greene County.

Local ownership a plus
Now, as in its past, uncertainty seems to loom for the nearly 60-year-old building.
Solo Cup announced plans in June to close the plant in mid-to-late 2011, cutting 340 manufacturing jobs in Springfield. In August, the $1.5 billion company agreed to sell the Springfield facility to Warren Davis Properties LLC for $7.9 million.

The sale remains subject to due diligence, and Patrick Harrington, co-owner of Warren Davis Properties, said it is set to close 45 to 60 days after the announcement.

Harrington declined to comment on the sale before closing on the real estate deal.

“I’m very pleased that we have local ownership in the person of Warren Davis,” Anderson said.

Solo agreed to lease the building for one year following the sale, and Anderson expressed confidence that Davis would fix areas of the building in need of attention or renovation.

Large space to fill
According to the second-quarter Market Trends report by Xceligent Inc., there are 51 industrial buildings larger than 100,000 square feet in Springfield, Nixa and Ozark.

Of those industrial buildings, which total 14.7 million square feet, only 1.5 percent, or 245,850 square feet, is currently available, the report said.

Harrington has said Davis Properties intends to keep the building as manufacturing space by leasing or selling it to another manufacturer, something not all potential buyers were willing to do,
Anderson said.

“There were a lot of folks that had expressed interest in the building. Many of them were not looking at it to continue as manufacturing space,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the agendas of the chamber and Davis are similar regarding the Solo building.

“What he wants to do is to get men and women in there working. That’s our agenda as well,” Anderson said. “Working in partnership with Warren Davis Properties, hopefully we can have some success.”

Ryan Mooney, the chamber’s senior vice president for business development, said it’s early in the process, but his office would help market the site.

“We’ll help find potential tenants,” Mooney said.[[In-content Ad]]

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