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Mike Fusek seeks a zoning change that would allow for a height increase of his planned Medical Mile office building.Rendering provided by MIKE FUSEK
Mike Fusek seeks a zoning change that would allow for a height increase of his planned Medical Mile office building.

Rendering provided by MIKE FUSEK

3 developers seek rezonings at council meeting

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City staff introduced three rezoning proposals at last night's Springfield City Council meeting that could bring a new office complex to the Medical Mile, a nursing home near South National Avenue and Weaver Road, and another student-housing complex to center city.

Medical Mile
Just south of Battlefield Road along the east side of National, commercial property manager Mike Fusek of SVN Rankin Co. aims to rezone 1.88 acres to forward plans for his office development.

Fusek, who seeks to develop the 30,000-square-foot property via National Place LLC, declined this morning to name any tenants on board with the plans, but said construction could begin next month and wrap by November 2017. He declined to disclose his investment in the project.

Derek Lee of Lee Engineering and Associates LLC spoke on behalf of the developer at last night's meeting, asking to change the zoning to an O-2 office district from an O-1 office designation. The change would allow Fusek to add two additional feet of height to each floor of the development.

Springfield Director of Planning and Development Mary Lilly Smith said the O-2 zoning fits in the city's Growth Management and Land Use Plan, and the Planning and Zoning Commission and city staff both recommend approval.

Lee told council, other than the height requirement, the project needed no special consideration.

“I'd like to point out that we are not asking for any increase in traffic [capacity] over what is allowed right now. We can build the exact same size building in the exact same space,” he said, adding with a basement or lower ceiling heights the development could move forward under its existing zoning.

Springfield City Attorney Frank Romines said the public hearing for the bill will continue to the Dec. 12 meeting because some of the public comments on the potential zoning change hadn't been added to the bill before last night's meeting.

Nursing home
A proposed amendment to the existing planned development at the northwest corner of Weaver and National could make way for a new nursing home.

Olsson Associates Inc.’s Jared Rasmussen, who represented rezoning applicant Martin Property Management LLC last night, said no firm plans were in place on the 7.8-acre property, but the zoning change could help sell the space to an unnamed developer.

The amended planned development would reduce existing landscaping requirements, according to Smith.

“Other than the buffer yard requirement along the National frontage, we're just asking that nursing homes be added to the group of uses that are already [allowed] there,” Rasmussen told council.

Student housing
Applicant Elm House LLC submitted a redevelopment plan for council's consideration as it seeks to pursue new student housing along the south side of East Madison Street between Jefferson and Thomas avenues.

Two buildings would comprise 24 units each for new fraternity and sorority housing, said Sarah Kerner, Springfield’s interim economic development director.

Developer representative Shawn Whitney of Spencer Fane LLP said the requested property tax abatement – available within the area's longstanding blighted district – would save developers roughly $200,000 over 10 years.

According to the project plan, two duplexes and two single-family residences would be demolished to make way for the housing. Kerner said the buildings were constructed prior to the blight-district designation established in the area in 1964.

Councilman Craig Hosmer expressed resistance to approving tax abatements for more student housing in the area.

“It seems like we are incentivizing people to build all these apartments, and maybe we should be done with apartments and try to bring some jobs through the Kraft-type projects,” Hosmer said.

All three rezoning bills are up for a second reading and vote at the Dec. 12 meeting.

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