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Property owner near St. John's makes concessions for hotel

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A pair of bills designed to rezone 1.37 acres just west of the St. John’s Hospital campus and change the floor-area ratio restrictions to allow for a five-story hotel at the site received first reads at the Oct. 17 Springfield City Council meeting.

Representing landowner One Hundred Two Glenstone Inc., civil engineer Derek Lee of Lee Engineering & Associates LLC said the property owner has purchased two homes on East Cherokee Street and made other concessions to alleviate neighbors’ concerns about the hotel. The property, at the southwest corner of National Avenue and Cherokee Street, also includes interior design firm Touché Design Group.

“I’m not going to tell you that everyone in the neighborhood is happy … but I have received a lot of feedback that has been very positive,” Lee said.

The property ownership group, operated by real estate company C. Arch Bay, also has moved the hotel’s footprint from the original plans submitted to the city.

The two purchased properties would allow for additional parking and a 30-foot buffer zone between local residents and the hotel, aspects that Lee said were important to Terry Reynolds of C. Arch Bay. Reynolds said the owners are still seeking a hotel flag.

The nearby Seminole/Holland Neighbor-hood Association has taken a neutral position on the project, said group President Richard Tettenhorst. Lee held a meeting Aug. 18 at the Library Center to discuss the development plans with neighborhood association members.

No residents spoke against the plans at the council meeting and two council members, Cindy Rushefsky and Robert Stephens, applauded the work of Lee, C. Arch Bay and the neighborhood association.

“It’s always a pleasure to hear of a developer … who tries to go out of their way to work with the neighbors,” Rushefsky said.

Councilman Jerry Compton asked Lee about the size of other commercial properties in the area, to give people a sense of why council members could approve these plans just two weeks after denying conditional overlay changes to a proposed five-story hotel on East Republic Road. That decision ended developer Earl Steinert’s plans for an $8 million project at that site. Lee noted the St. John’s campus has two buildings of at least seven stories in height.

Gordon Elliott, a hotel developer and owner of the Heatherwood Apartments on South Florence, had opposed a bill approved at the Oct. 3 meeting that lifted building height restrictions near multifamily and townhouse residential districts, saying it would allow developers of the hotel near St. John’s to build a structure that would tower over his residents. Elliot did not attend the Oct. 17 meeting.

Lee had said that bill has nothing to do with the C. Arch Bay project.

Ralph Rognstad, director of Planning & Development for the city, said the rezoning bill would create a single general retail district at the proposed hotel site, which comprises six commercial and residential properties. The floor-area ratio change would make the land consistent with formerly used standards for general retail districts.

Council is expected to vote on the proposals Oct. 31.

Drury blight
Council also considered a pair of bills that would rezone and declare two properties as blighted on the Drury University campus. The moves would allow Drury’s development partner, Bryan Properties, to receive a 10-year property tax abatement on land it would lease to build a three-story student dormitory at the corner of North Summit Avenue and East Webster Street.  

The plans involve tearing down one former residence known as the Katrina House to make room for the 72-unit dormitory, while it would restore the Rose O’Neill House as a community center for students, according to Peter Radecki, vice president of campus operations. Rose O’Neill was the creator of the Kewpie dolls, and the university wants to save the home because of its historic significance, Radecki said.

The properties at 1116 and 1126 N. Summit Ave. are zoned single-family residential, and the zoning change would allow for government and institutional use.

Radecki said the homes that fell into disrepair were only owned by the university for a handful of years, and it was trying to develop plans for the properties.

“We needed to find a way to connect (the Rose O’Neill house) to something that allows it to make sense as an asset for the campus,” Radecki said. He said Bryan Properties officials indicated that the 10-year tax abatement, which would be offered by the Land Clearance and Redevelopment Authority if the properties were to be declared blighted, makes the deal economically feasible. The bills are scheduled for a vote Oct 31.

In January, council approved Bryan Properties’ request for a 10-year tax abatement package for seven acres at East Madison Street and South Kimbrough Avenue. Developer Bryan Magers is building in phases a $20 million mixed-use complex, with apartments.[[In-content Ad]]

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