To the east of Springfield, the city of Strafford is experiencing new development as the city updates its comprehensive plan and looks to tax increment financing mechanisms.
Officials from Strafford, a 2.3-square-mile town with just under 2,500 residents, are planning for the future while present development occurs. They’re working with the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments to update a 16-year-old comprehensive plan.
“The 2003 plan was more of a community wish list than it really was a true land-use projection, growth projection, infrastructure projection,” said Strafford City Administrator Steve Bodenhamer.
Bodenhamer said commercial growth started in earnest in the 1990s, followed by retail and some logistics business.
“We’ve had retail growth since 2003, particularly in the merchandising line and food service, both fast and sit-down,” Bodenhamer said.
Now, the focus is on land development usage for the future.
“Hopefully, what comes out of this is some projected land-use map,” Bodenhamer said, before asking a question about key highway access from Interstate 44, and routes 125 and OO through the town: “How do we want to project those future land uses?”
One development underway is a youth sports center.
The Strafford Sports Center is a private development by Micki and Troy McShane.
“They’re just now to the point of getting building permits,” Bodenhamer said. “It should help the sales tax generation from food vendors, convenience stores and things like that.”
The McShanes plan to create four indoor basketball courts and a kids’ zone with games and inflatables at 9007 E. Evergreen St. The 33,200-square-foot complex is slated for completion later this summer, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
It’s not just activities and entertainment that’s growing in Strafford.
Wilson Logistics Inc. intends to build a 35,000-square-foot terminal off I-44, immediately east of Camping World. At the 100-acre site, Strafford Board of Aldermen annexed and rezoned the land to highway commercial. But the company has yet to break ground.
“They have not given me any formal master plans, development plans,” Bodenhamer said.
“We’ve had a meeting or two with some things on the table, but until they actually submit something, be it stormwater management or civil site plans or something like that, the ball is in their court.”
Wilson Logistics owner Darrell Wilson told SBJ in December the project would start with an administration center, shop buildings and a cafeteria.
“We are a logistics-based community, basically because of I-44, and the proximity to U.S. [Highway] 65,” Bodenhamer said. “I believe they’ll put a nice campus together there.”
City officials have had preliminary discussions with the project’s engineers, Slone Architects & Interior Designers Inc., about utilities, Bodenhamer said, and a traffic study will need to be conducted.
Wilson Logistics Marketing Manager Michael Ensminger said, at press time, he was unaware of the company’s timeline for submitting plans. They’ve previously said it’s projected to open in summer 2020 and create 100 new jobs.
Strafford aldermen heard another potential development plan during their June 10 meeting.
“We are working toward a 200-acre industrial rail park development,” Bodenhamer said of the city.
If realized, the park would be established in southwest Strafford, east of the John Deere Reman plant.
The city and South West Missouri Rail and Business Park LLC, which supplied the only bid, have entered into a memorandum of understanding to pursue incentives under the Chapter 100 umbrella and tax increment financing. Aldermen updated the comprehensive plan with an amendment on June 17, Bodenhamer said, and the TIF commission will hold a public hearing on July 23 for the park’s consideration. TIF funding measures are tentatively scheduled for consideration Aug. 8.
Strafford is in the process of creating a historic park set to open during the Fourth of July holiday in midtown, next to City Hall between the railroad and the highway.
“The idea was we would replicate false fronts of historic buildings that used to sit on Highway 66 that we had enough data on,” Bodenhamer said of the three planned buildings, including the city’s original train depot built in 1871.
The depot is now being recreated with a small interior for bathrooms and a water fill-up station. The area is designed as a rest stop for bikers and Route 66 tourists.
Next to the depot, the Bumgarner General Store is designed as a pavilion area, but a third, the recreation of the Delp Hotel, is on hold for financial reasons, Bodenhamer said.
The building was razed in 2008 due to unsafe conditions, he said.
To date, the city project has cost $90,000 in materials, with Strafford Public Works donating time for labor.
Michele Eden, owner of Common Grounds Coffee & Cafe LLC, operates out of one of the remaining historic buildings, at 100 E. Pine St. She purchased another next door in December 2018, a former pharmacy that had been damaged by fire.
Eden plans to invest $175,000 to restore the building and open a floral, gift and refurbished furniture store.
“It’s been under construction. We’ve worked on it the last couple months,” she said.
The Strafford native has owned Common Grounds – the former Strafford Farm and Feed store – for nearly five years.
With both Strafford and its western neighbor Springfield expanding, the cities entered into a boundary agreement last summer to more specifically define how far each city would plan to grow to, Bodenhamer said.
“That is working well,” he said. “At least we have a definition and then if there is a compelling interest to make an exception to that, both parties have to agree to the exception.”
The perpetual agreement arose from an interested private party unsure of which council to present annexation plans to with loosely defined boundaries.
Strafford also is working with another Springfield entity for services, an agreement that dates back two years.
“We are cooperating a little bit with City Utilities of Springfield,” Bodenhamer said. “There is an area on the extreme west end of Strafford that is more economical for CU to provide water services, particularly high-flow water services, to where fire protection is needed than it is for us.”
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