Last edited 2:15 p.m., April 24, 2023 [Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included a quote from Tom Rankin that has been removed. Rankin said he misspoke at the City Council meeting.]
The old business portion of the April 17 meeting of Springfield City Council included one bill that was downright elderly: the approval of a redevelopment project for a special taxing district created in May 2013.
Council unanimously approved the redevelopment project on 96 acres at the southwest corner of West Sunshine Street and South West Bypass and will consider a measure to initiate tax increment financing at its next regular meeting.
Council blew the dust off the measure not to clear up unfinished business before three new council members were seated – the most longstanding member, departing Councilmember Mike Schilling, began on council in 2015, after the creation of the TIF – but rather to meet a legal deadline. There’s a use-it-or-lose-it requirement under Missouri’s Tax Increment Financing Act that council approve redevelopment projects within 10 years of the approval of a TIF plan.
City Economic Vitality Director Amanda Ohlensehlen explained the history of the project, noting a TIF agreement between the city and Springfield Plaza Real Estate LLC was approved May 6, 2013. At the same meeting, council took up bills to approve two redevelopment project areas, but those were tabled at the time because the developer was not ready to proceed.
Bills to approve the two redevelopment project areas were reintroduced in December 2016, and the first area was approved; however, the developer again asked to table the second. That was the measure OK’d by council April 17, nearly seven years later.
Ohlensehlen noted RPA 1 encompasses the northern third of the 96-acre redevelopment area, about 36 acres, adjacent to West Sunshine Street. Since council approved the project in 2016, it has been redeveloped with 150,000 square feet of commercial retail space.
RPA 2 includes the remaining southern two-thirds of the redevelopment area, about 61 acres, and the TIF plan would allow the redevelopment of 250,000 square feet of space for office uses.
The TIF plan’s total project cost is $78.5 million, and reimbursable project costs are $9.6 million for primary road improvements, utility costs, the cost of a detention basin, and professional fees and capitalized interest on the developer’s private construction loan.
Ohlensehlen explained the TIF agreement would allow tax revenue to be collected for up to 18 years within each redevelopment project. Revenues collected include payments in lieu of taxes, equivalent to all of the new tax revenue generated since the project was approved, and economic activity taxes equating to half of the incremental increase in sales tax from the project.
Developer Tom Rankin of Springfield Plaza Real Estate told council the development firm had spent $4.5 million on streets, detention basins and other improvements to pave the way for lots to be sold in Phase 2.
He said about 38,000 square feet are under construction next to Ulta Beauty in the large retail center, and Michael’s Arts and Crafts is about to relocate there. Fast food chain Whataburger is about to open, and a contract will soon close on a lot next to Central Bank. That leaves one lot to sell, he said.
He added that he didn’t get all of the retailers he had hoped to in Phase 1, but some landed close by, which is disappointing for him but good for the city as a whole.
“It’s been a good project,” he said. “I think it’s probably been a catalyst for the redevelopment of the area.”
Council unanimously approved the activation of the next TIF phase.
Boyd school project OK’d
Council gave the green light to a project to convert the former Boyd Elementary School into apartments.
Council unanimously approved a rezoning measure that will change the designation of the property, located at 1409-1429 N. Washington Ave., to a planned development from a single-family residential district.
A protest petition signed by 38.1% of owners of property located within 185 feet of the school meant that approval of a supermajority of council members was required for the bill to pass.
At a public hearing April 3, the majority of the 10 speakers expressed support for the development.
The Boyd School Redevelopment Corp., led by Matt Blevins, plans to transform the school into a 17-unit apartment building with 3,500 square feet at ground level reserved for a commercial tenant.
However, some residents were opposed to the development on the basis of alcohol possibly being sold on the premises.
Prior to the vote, Councilmember Craig Hosmer pointed out that the planned development specifies no bar or nightclub will be permitted on the site, and hours of operation are limited to 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Marijuana restrictions pass
Council unanimously passed an ordinance placing certain restrictions on the use of recreational marijuana. The ordinance reiterates state law, which prohibits possession of marijuana by people under the age of 21 or in amounts exceeding 3 ounces. It also restricts public consumption of marijuana or consumption in motor vehicles. Additionally, smoke and odor from marijuana may not emanate from a nonpublic location into a public one.
Operators of motor vehicles may not consume marijuana, and passengers may not ingest it while a vehicle is being operated. Additionally in the new city law, marijuana may not be consumed in a motor vehicle parked in a public place.
Other action items
Ariake Sushi and Robata opened; Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) opened its newest branch in Springfield; and a longtime employee with City Utilities of Springfield went into business for himself with the launch of Van Every Drafting & Design LLC.