After calling downtown home for most of four decades, SBJ Publishing Inc. will be on the move this summer to Chesterfield Village.
The company, which produces weekly newspaper Springfield Business Journal and daily business news via SBJ.net, has listed its office, 313 Park Central West, for sale through NAI Enterprise LLC. The 111-year-old, three-story building has an asking price of $650,000.
Jennifer Jackson, SBJ publisher since 2011, said the search for a new home had been ongoing for a couple of years. Jackson took over as owner of SBJ Publishing in 2017, after her mother, founding publisher Dianne Elizabeth Osis, retired.
“It was a hard decision for us to leave downtown, and it wasn’t anything I was in a hurry to do,” Jackson said. “In making plans 10 years out or for the long range of Springfield Business Journal, I knew that I would rather focus my attention, energy and money on growing this business as opposed to caring for this real estate.”
Jackson began discussions with Chesterfield Village developer Larry Lipscomb and signed a 10-year lease-purchase agreement for 4,000 square feet in the southwest Springfield mixed-use development. The monthly rate was undisclosed for the office space, 2101 W. Chesterfield Blvd., Stes. B103-105, which formerly housed Mettemeyer Engineering LLC, CJD Engineering LLC and Sygna Technology LLC.
“He is assisting us with infill to suit our needs,” Jackson said of Lipscomb, adding a $625,000 price has been set if the building is purchased within the first five years of the agreement.
Lipscomb said Mettemeyer and CJD vacated the building last year to move down the road.
The firms share a headquarters in a $2.5 million, 14,000-square-foot headquarters at 2225 W. Chesterfield Blvd., according to past SBJ reporting.
If not for SBJ’s 20 staff members filling the space, Lipscomb said he might have divided up the building into separate offices.
“I think the added employee base of SBJ will be great to have at the village,” he said. “It lends extra credibility.”
Center city to the village
The publication, which was established in 1980, has occupied the Park Central West building since 1996, Jackson said. Save for about five years, the company has operated downtown.
Upon retirement, Osis retained ownership of the building. Jackson said her mother wants to divest in property, which ultimately spurred the relocation.
The current headquarters for SBJ is bigger overall on three floors, but Jackson said the company is only utilizing about 3,700 square feet, with staff spread out on the first two levels.
“We’ll be able to create some more open and collaborative workspaces that aren’t possible here,” she said of the Chesterfield Village office.
“It seemed to be well suited to our staff, both in location and size and layout of the facility.”
GHN Architects and Engineers was hired to design the infill project, including conference room and photography studio spaces, she added, with Jim Lorenz of Lorenz Enterprises serving as contractor. Infill work is ongoing, and Jackson anticipates a move in early July.
SBJ’s pending move is not the only one Chesterfield Village has experienced in the past year.
Digital commerce firm Classy Llama Studios LLC in July 2018 relocated to the development and OakStar Bank in January moved within Chesterfield Village to an expanded operations center in the former Summit Preparatory School building, 2155 W. Chesterfield Blvd.
In addition, Scott Opfer, founder and president of Opfer Communications Inc., last year purchased half of Lipscomb’s 3-acre family farm in the development at 3745 Cox Ave. Opfer intends to build a new office and a separate video production studio on the site.
With the activity, Lipscomb said Chesterfield Village is at 98% occupancy. He said about 30,000 square feet of additional commercial space is available for future construction.
On Park Central West, next-door property improvements have been taking place in recent months that Jackson said make for good timing to sell the property. Falstaff’s Local has been updating its facade, while Harbell’s Grill and Sports Bar gained new ownership four months ago. New owner David Bauer said upon taking over Harbell’s he planned to invest around $30,000 in improvements to the eatery, according to SBJ archives.
“I think this is a great time to list this property, given the improvements that have taken place and taken shape on either side of us and near us at College Station,” Jackson said.
“So it seems like all those factors came together at the right time. I found something we wanted to go to and I felt like we had a very sellable property at an opportune time.”
The buildings on Park Central West are part of an opportunity zone in Springfield, which Downtown Springfield Association Executive Director Rusty Worley said could be potentially appealing to investors.
“It’s a benefit that is still early on, but we’re seeing a lot of interest in it,” Worley said, adding he’s not aware of anyone using it downtown yet.
Opportunity zones originated as a national tax program via the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of December 2017 and offered through the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service. The intent is to incentivize development and job creation in distressed communities. According to past SBJ reporting, center city, north Springfield and an area surrounding Bass Pro Shops are three local opportunity zones designated by the Treasury.
“We’re glad downtown was part of that designation,” Worley said, suggesting the IDEA Commons expansion plan is an ideal candidate.
The IRS issued guidance April 17 providing additional details about investment in opportunity zones. Proposed regulations allow deferral of all or part of a gain that is invested into a qualified opportunity fund that otherwise would be included in income. According to a news release, the gain is deferred until Dec. 31, 2026, or when the investment is sold or exchanged, whichever is earlier.
Qualified opportunity zone business property is tangible property used in a trade or business of the qualified opportunity fund if the property was purchased after Dec. 31, 2017, according to the IRS.
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