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Cityscape: Acrimony continues at pivotal corner

Government and development coverage and analysis

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Acrimony continues at pivotal corner

Ralph Duda of BK&M LLC told me he has heard from multiple companies interested in the northwest corner of Sunshine Street and National Avenue. A boutique grocery chain and high-end restaurants lead the pack.

Single-tenant use is Duda’s current vision for the corner, and he believes his development company is the best chance the University Heights neighborhood has for getting something desirable there.

According to Duda, the corner is going to be rezoned to commercial eventually, and he said if BK&M gets shot down, the property will be sold to another developer who might opt for something like a convenience store or discount retailer.

“We need to have tender gloves on when we pick this potential tenant or whoever goes in there,” he said.

Duda said he wants to work with the neighborhood, as members of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission have asked him to do.

But Duda called out one neighborhood resident by name: Mark Fletcher, part of a group of litigants suing BK&M. Duda said Fletcher is bullying neighbors into not talking to him.

“So many neighbors I talk to say they’re terrified to even be seen with me because of that man,” he said.

Fletcher told me he couldn’t imagine who Duda was referring to.

“I honestly don’t know anybody who’s talking to him,” he said.

Fletcher said BK&M’s moves are predictable.

“They’ll make pseudo-concessions, and their friends in the city will trumpet them,” he said.

But Fletcher said there is no avenue available to BK&M to put a commercial development in the deed-restricted neighborhood.

“Time’s money for him. He’s running like a scared rabbit. All he has left is to call names, so he picks me out,” he said.

A civil suit brought against BK&M by a group of University Heights neighbors will determine whether the deed restrictions that were set in 1925 will stand. That’s the puzzle piece everyone watching is waiting to see fall into place.

Consumers say ‘I do’ to dream weddings

SAYING YES TO THE DRESS: Bride-to-be Chandra Noteware, left, checks out a dress – one of her wedding splurges – with Katie Barr of Norman's Bridal Shoppe. | SBJ photo by Heather Mosley 

I took a deep dive into consumer behavior this month, with a desire to figure out how inflation and recession fears were affecting our purchasing.

It was one of those situations where more conversations, data and reading on the subject made the window somehow more opaque than when I started. What it seems to boil down to is this: Things are weird, and people are acting oddly.

Some illumination came from Kamryn Hesington, co-owner of Gracie’s Bridal. If purchasing power has changed and worry has manifested, surely it will show up in wedding planning – right?


Hesington told me weddings today are not all that different than they were before the current inflationary period hit when it comes to spending. The timing of the big day does seem to have changed, though.

“They’re either really quick or really far off – there’s not any in-between,” she said.

Some couples figure they’ve waited long enough, following COVID-19, while others plan to take their time and pull off the most perfect day possible. Budgets, though, are the same as before, Hesington said.

“Weddings are something that people really value,” she said. “They don’t want to cut that back; they want to make sure they still have their dream day.”

According to wedding planning website The Knot, the average wedding cost $30,000 in 2022.

Chandra Noteware, of Bolivar, found her dream dress downtown at Norman’s Bridal Shoppe LLC. She said she was economizing by buying off the rack, though she noted the dress she chose was one of her splurges. Food for her guests is the other.

Noteware is saving quite a bit of money in her choice of venue – a Stockton Lake stone-and-timber picnic shelter, available the whole day for $50. A florist friend is helping her to plan decorations that are both beautiful and economical, and at the lakeside venue, Mother Nature will kick in some adornments for free.

“I’ve found the love of my life, my person, and I want to make it special and celebrate with friends and family,” she said.

A number of studies tell us that people get more pleasure from experiences, like a wedding, than from things. An April Deloitte poll found 55% of U.S. respondents were choosing not to delay large purchases, and 45% can afford to spend on things that bring them joy.

We’re a Clean Green machine!

I was excited to join with a group of work friends to help clean up a section of South Creek between Kansas Expressway and Fort Avenue as part of the Clean Green Springfield initiative.

City Manager Jason Gage said more than 1,200 people have registered for the effort, which takes place throughout April and May. For Springfield Business Journal, Rebecca Green, JT Kendall, Geoff Pickle and Christine Temple got out into the muck along the South Creek Greenway with city-provided grabbers to do the deed.

Consider this a personal plug, if you’re looking for a team-building activity for your workplace. It feels good to contribute to a cleaner city, and it feels great to join friends amid sunshine and birdsong to do it.

Poetry talk

The letter to the editor in this issue – regarding a headline and an interpretation of a Robert Frost poem – has me feeling giddy. I often feel like the lone neighborhood kid tossing a ball onto a sloped roof just to get a game of catch going.

Letter-writer David Burton, of Springfield, and I have different readings of the Robert Frost poem “Mending Wall,” with the famous refrain “Good fences make good neighbors,” but what a pleasure to know that I started a small conversation about poetry when I used the refrain as the headline of a story. Click here for his kindhearted perspective on the importance of building relationships.

The story itself was a comprehensive look into buffer yards and their enforcement by the city of Springfield. Buffer yards are essentially “good fences” (often actual fences or vegetative zones) that stand between two zoning categories of different intensities. More of a buffer is required for larger disparities, to provide some measure of harmony between, say, a residential neighborhood and a commercial establishment.

Burton sees two farmers collaborating amiably on the repair of a stone wall, while I notice some of the ominous intent hinted at in a neighbor walking with a rock in each hand, “like an old-stone savage armed” who “moves in darkness.” Frost is a deep and crafty poet, and I love that he can be read on multiple levels – none of which have much to do with enforcement of buffer yards, except maybe that they must be included and maintained with great seriousness of intent.

Kudos to Burton for reading and engaging meaningfully with poems. Poem people are my favorite people.

Contact Karen Craigo
Phone: 417-340-3224


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