The Iron Grain District, a $65 million mixed-use development by Magers Management Co., is coming to Republic.
The residential and commercial development is slated for the intersection of State Route MM and Sawyer Road on 30 acres adjacent to the Garton Business Park, which houses an Amazon fulfillment center. The planned development is just south of the James River Freeway interchange.
Officials with the Randy Magers-owned development company described the project as a community-centered development that would offer contemporary multifamily housing and townhomes within walking distance of dining, shopping and entertainment.
Republic Mayor Matthew Russell welcomed the new development.
“The proposed Iron Grain District project brings retail and residential development together in a way that aligns with our current goal to make Republic a great place to live, work and play,” he said.
Architectural firm H Design Group LLC has been brought on to design the project. BP Builders LLC is the general contractor, and Derek Lee of Lee Engineering and Associates LLC was instrumental in the master planning, according to Shannon Handwerker, vice president of operations for Magers Management.
The residential portion of the project is designed with more than 200 one-, two- and three-bedroom units and a pool, dog park, clubhouse and walking trails. The plans also call for a hotel on the site.
Adjacent to the apartments is a planned 24,000-square-foot shopping center. Additional commercial lots will be available for lease, Handwerker said. She added the goal is to have the shopping center finished by summer 2023, with completion to occur in phases.
Some companies already have expressed interest, Handwerker said, among them a couple of national tenants and two local restaurants that Handwerker declined to identify.
Handwerker said Arch Watson of commercial real estate company SVN/Rankin Co. has been retained to fill the commercial spaces.
“I imagine the majority will be restaurants,” Handwerker said. “The city of Republic really needs those, especially in that area of town.”
Watson told Springfield Business Journal he anticipates a mix of restaurant, retail and office tenants at the commercial site.
The Amazon warehouse opened its doors in September 2021 with some 1,600 employees, not including hundreds of holiday seasonal workers. Convoy of Hope, which Springfield Business Journal previously reported has approximately 60 warehouse workers, also opened nearby in the same month.
“It is exciting to see this continued investment in our community,” said David Cameron, city administrator of Republic. “Iron Grain District represents the kind of intentional development that sets Republic apart.”
Cameron said city officials have been actively working the last several years to create economic development in the corridor.
“This is a catalyst project from a retail and commercial perspective, to provide a support to these businesses,” Cameron said. “It is a great, attractive-looking, progressive development for our community.”
He added the area already has heavy traffic that he anticipates will make use of the opportunity to dine and shop. The offerings also will be welcome for workers.
“That many employees looking for a place to stop and eat or live – it’s the beginning of a significant paradigm shift on that corner,” he said. “We’re lucky to have found a partner in Randy Magers.”
Cameron said with the Iron Grain District, Magers Management Co. is a pioneer.
“They’re an anchor on the ground; they’re the first ones to do it – the first ones to take that step,” he said.
After SBJ broke the story on Feb. 1 about Iron Grain, online discussion quickly turned to traffic concerns in the area of burgeoning development.
Cameron said Statewide Transportation Improvement Program funds of $26 million have been allocated for a 2025 project to widen and redo State Route MM from the Amazon facility to U.S. 60. A partnership involving the state, Greene County and the city will provide $10.6 million to widen State Route MM from James River to Interstate 44.
He added Republic also is commissioning a study on the feasibility of widening U.S. Route 60 to six lanes.
The road improvements will facilitate traffic in and out of Amazon and the business park as well as the Iron Grain District development, according to Cameron.
“When you partner that with expanding infrastructure to support it, I think it only means bigger and better things,” he said.
Cameron said Republic deserves a look from potential developers because of its preparedness to meet infrastructure needs.
“This is a great place to invest. We can help you get to market faster,” he said.
“Money follows trust. When you invest $65 million, you’re hoping to get a return on that investment.”
When asked if Iron Grain District developers had received any incentives from Republic, Cameron said they are currently working on an agreement for the city to install water to the site and Magers Management Co. to pay for materials.
Mike Jones of Springfield-based Jones Marketing Group LLC is working with Magers Management on Iron Grain’s branding, alongside the hospitality branding group Longitude LLC.
Jones said the development is being built on former farmland where crops were grown.
“We want to show our appreciation to farmers in the community,” he said. “Republic is a very rural community, supported in large part by agronomy.”
That accounts for the “Grain” portion of the name, but Jones said the area also is rich in minerals.
“It used to be and still is a big iron ore community, dating back to the Frisco railroad,” he said. “Iron was a big part of its commerce back in the day, so the name is a nod to that.”
Significant to the name, too, is the concept of the area as a district, rather than a mere development, Jones said. The organizers say they aim to create an area where people congregate and collaborate.
“Our hope, as Republic is growing in that direction, as it appears to be, is that residents will say, ‘Let’s meet out at Iron Grain,’” he said.
Handwerker acknowledged the name of the district might apply to the entire area and not just the planned development.
“We think it will really help to promote growth that way,” she said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May the all-items inflation index surged 8.6% over the past year, the highest increase since 1981.