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Southeast hotel proposals rise

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Hours after a rezoning application was turned into city planners to make way for a five-story hotel near St. John’s Hospital on Aug. 22, Springfield City Council members raised and fielded tough questions about a five-story hotel proposal across from the Pat Jones YMCA.

Though both projects are at least months away from starting construction, laying the groundwork for these developments that could add more than 200 rooms to the Springfield hotel market is proving no easy task.

The two proposals – a Hampton Inn at the 1800 block of East Republic Road and a 107-room hotel at the southwest corner of South National Avenue and East Cherokee Street – are four miles apart.

Hotel near hospital
The owners of 1.86 acres across from St. John’s are seeking rezoning to a general retail district of the six adjacent commercial and residential properties that include interior design firm Touché Design Group.

Representatives of One Hundred Two Glenstone Inc. held a meeting Aug. 18 at the Library Center to discuss the development plans with members of the nearby Seminole/Holland Neighborhood Association. Springfield-based real estate company C. Arch Bay operates One Hundred Two Glenstone, and owner Terry Reynolds said the land would be leased to a hotel developer, which she declined to name.

C. Arch Bay has hired Derek Lee of Lee Engineering & Associates LLC to complete site work for the proposed hotel and represent the company through the rezoning process.

“I got pages and pages of feedback,” Lee said of the neighborhood meeting, adding that there are concerns about noise, lighting, traffic and stormwater issues.

Lee said a hotel chain has not yet been selected, but the Hilton Garden Inn is the stand-in model for the size and scope of the facility that would be designed by Rita Baron of Baron Design Associates. Through RT Development LLC, Baron partnered with Reynolds to bring to town Einstein Bros. Bagels, which in mid-2010 opened its first site just north of the hotel’s proposed location.

Reynolds said project details wouldn’t be ironed out until zoning is in place.

Touché Design Group owner Jeanne Hill has two years remaining on her corner lot lease at 2009 S. National Ave. She’s known about the potential for a hotel development for two years and has begun to look at other commercial properties.

“I’m just kind of in limbo right now,” said Hill, who’s been in business for more than 30 years. “What I’d really like to do is stay here.”

A public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled Sept. 29, said city planner Mike McPherson. The zoning proposal will then be forwarded to Springfield City Council for a first reading on Oct. 17, followed by a council vote on Oct. 31.

A second in the southeast
Plans to rezone 4.74 acres to allow for the construction of a five-story Hampton Inn at the 1800 block of East Republic Road drew skepticism from council members and the ire of nearby residents with the bill’s first reading at the Springfield City Council meeting Aug. 22.

Developer Earl Steinert, who owns Springfield’s two Hampton Inn properties, plans to add 75 to 110 rooms in his fourth property, at an estimated cost of roughly $7 million, said architect Larry Phillips, who is representing Steinert.

Patterson-Thomas LLC owns the property, which appraised this year for $964,800, according to Greene County assessor’s records.

Phillips, who owns Pellham-Phillips Architects & Engineers Inc., said a zoning change would increase the floor-area ratio permitted by the city and allow construction of 110 rooms on the property. Council is scheduled to vote on the measure Sept. 5, and Phillips said construction of the hotel could begin in spring if the zoning change is approved.

Councilman Robert Stephens questioned the market viability of another hotel, considering the city’s hotel occupancy rate has hovered around 50 percent in recent years. According to the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, hotel occupancy in the city was 52 percent through June, a 3 percent increase compared to the first six months of 2010. The month of June spiked 11 percent, compared to last year, and settled at 69 percent occupancy.

In March, O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC opened the 125-room, $9.8 million Hilton Garden Inn at 4155 S. Nature Center Way. The 140,000-square foot hotel is just east of the proposed Hampton Inn site.

A formal protest petition by area residents was awaiting certification with the city clerk’s office as of Aug. 25. Council was made aware of an informational petition signed by some 170 residents opposed to the proposed hotel, and several of those residents expressed their concerns at the meeting.

Judy Wilson, a resident of Ravenwood neighborhood to the south, said she thought the development would hurt property values, as the proposed hotel would sit on high ground and allow an unimpeded view into residential homes.

McPherson said a six-foot fence would be required, and trees would be planted to minimize privacy issues.

“They’re going to have to be Sequoias,” Wilson said.[[In-content Ad]]


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