A representative from Menards last night told Springfield City Council members the company would bring 150 jobs to town if it could be excluded from the Hickory Hills Marketplace Community Improvement District.
Developer Paul Larino of Larino Properties worked to get the CID established in April as a way to fund public infrastructure for the 46-acre development just north of Chestnut Expressway on the grounds of the former Hickory Hills Elementary and Middle School.
The Springfield site would be the fifth in Missouri for Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards, which operates home improvement stores across the Midwest from Wyoming to Ohio, according to Menards.com
Council held a public hearing on a bill that would amend the boundaries of the CID to exclude 16 acres where the proposed 162,000-square-foot Menards facility would be built. Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith noted Menards has said it would not locate within the CID boundaries because the tax collected to fund improvements would put it at a competitive disadvantage.
Menards spokesman Tyler Edwards told council it was interested in being the anchor tenant for Larino’s development with the passage of the amended CID bill.
“This would create 150 jobs … and we are happy to bring those to town,” Edwards said.
Councilman Thomas Bieker asked if such a move would create a precedent whereby others within a CID would ask to be removed from the boundaries, citing concerns from businesses with the establishment of the Commercial Street CID.
Smith said city staff recommended approval of that district despite some objections because it was a developed area where a majority of property owners were calling for the improvements.
“In this case, (Hickory Hills Marketplace) is a developer-driven district,” Smith said, adding that Larino, the sole property owner, is calling for the change.
The amendment, Smith said, also would require less money to be raised through the CID tax, because the developer would be reimbursed only for the 370,000 square feet of land ceded to Greene County for infrastructure improvements. Larino has been working with the county to establish a Neighborhood Improvement District for road and infrastructure upgrades that would benefit surrounding areas. Previously, the CID was anticipated to reimburse more than $6 million to Larino Properties for infrastructure improvements, but now it only plans to collect $1.9 million.
Smith said the city could collect a sales tax of up to 1 cent at retail locations within the district’s boundaries for up to 30 years to reimburse the developer expenses.
Councilman Doug Burlison said he planned to support the changes to help bring new jobs to town.
“I don’t want to throw any wrench in the project that could be problematic. … Welcome to Springfield,” Burlison said to Edwards.
Council is expected to hear the bill’s second reading and vote on the measure at its Jan. 29 meeting. No one spoke against the amendment.For more city beat coverage, look to the Jan. 20 digital edition or the Jan. 23 print edition of Springfield Business Journal.