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Kickapoo branch sells to fund new Library Center

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

A quiet place to read: a great big quiet place to read.

That's what the Springfield-Greene County Library District has in store for Springfield, and as of June 25, it is one step closer to its goal.

The library is continuing to renovate the 83,000-square-foot former Payless Cashways building at 4653 S. Campbell, said Library Director Annie Busch.

In order to have the funds necessary to acquire and renovate the structure, the library had to sell two of its existing properties: a service center, sold last month, and the Kickapoo Prairie Branch Library building, which sold to the Covenant Development Corporation June 25 for $1.6 million.

Covenant Development is the corporate entity that purchases real estate for the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination, which has a presence locally as Heartland Covenant Church, said pastor Brad Mann. Heartland plans to move in within three weeks of the library's moving out of Kickapoo, Mann said.

The library plans to vacate the branch by October, and is planning a grand opening for its Library Center Nov. 1, Busch said.

The Main Library in center city will become a neighborhood branch with the opening of the Library Center, Busch said.

Kickapoo's collection will go the Library Center and other branches, Busch said. The library plans to reuse its shelves and to place Kickapoo's furniture in other branches.

"Since we're doing this without a tax increase, we want to be as efficient as we possibly can. We're very good at recycling," Busch said.

The Library Center will infuse much-needed space into the library system. Now, when a book is added to the library's collection, one must be removed from its shelves, Busch said.

"We are severely short on space now. This will give us just about what we need to truly expand the collection and our services," Busch said.

Expanded services with the new library will include 12 to 15 more computers, a business resource center, and more meeting space for local nonprofits.

The Library Center will have a variety of meeting spaces, including an auditorium space that will hold up to 200 people, Busch said.

The library will also have a coffee bar and cafe, and the providers of that service have been identified, though the contract has not been signed, Busch said.

The total cost for the Library Center is $6.7 million, which includes an intersection upgrade on Campbell, Busch said. The building was purchased for $2.7 million and improvements to it total $3 million, Busch said. In addition to the sale of the two buildings, the library financed the Library Center project by selling $3.1 million in bonds and raising $300,000 through fund raisers. It is working to raise an additional $700,000, Busch said.

The architect for the Library Center project is Michael Sapp Associates and the general contractor is Springfield Builders Inc.

Heartland Covenant does not plan any major renovations to the Kickapoo Prairie Branch, but will rent out the part of the building it does not use for church functions, Mann said. The church now rents a space on Glenstone for its services, and it needs additional space for its 110 members.

Heartland has been in Springfield for about three years and is part of a more than 100-year-old denomination that derived from the state church of Sweden, Mann said.

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