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Developer seeks approval of C-Street project, including Missouri Hotel renovation

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Last edited 3:57 p.m., March 26, 2024 [Editor's note: Newer renderings have been added.]

Plans to redevelop a 7.5-acre area that encompasses parts of the Commercial Street Historic District and the Midtown neighborhood received a mixed reception when introduced to Springfield City Council at its meeting last night. 

Commercial-Pacific Street Redevelopment Corp., headed by developer Titus Williams, is looking to begin a four-phase development of an area bounded to the north by the 400-500 blocks of East Commercial Street and extending south of Pacific Street. The project includes renovation of the 42,000-square-foot Missouri Hotel, which Williams has been planning to renovate since 2017. 

The area, which includes 17 parcels, is between North Jefferson Avenue to the west and Benton Avenue to the east, and it also includes 536-540 E. Commercial St., a commercial structure built circa 1900 and targeted for demolition after falling into disrepair. 

The council bill presented for a public hearing last night, and slated for a vote on April 8, includes several components: approval of the redevelopment plan with a declaration of blight for the entire area, the authorization of a tax abatement within a section of the plan area and the execution of an agreement with the developer to begin redevelopment. 

The plan 
The redevelopment plan includes four phases: 

  • Pacific South Project Area: New construction of 72 townhomes with on- and off-street parking. It is scheduled to begin immediately if council approves the redevelopment plan.
  • 540 E. Commercial Project Area: New construction of a mixed-use building with ground-floor retail, restaurant and office areas and Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible multifamily residential dwelling units on the first floor, plus more multifamily residential dwelling units on upper floors, with limited off-street parking. Construction would begin this summer if approved.
  • Missouri Hotel Project Area: With work slated to begin this fall, upon council approval, the historic Missouri Hotel, built in 1927, would be rehabilitated into a boutique hotel with restaurant, bar, spa and other amenities. The plan states adjacent buildings along East Commercial Street would be rehabilitated for restaurant, retail, office and hotel accessory uses.
  • Pacific North Project Area: New construction would begin in summer 2025 for this mixed-use development with over 200 multifamily residential dwelling units with ground-floor office/retail space and off-street parking.

According to an explanation of the bill by the city’s Planning and Development staff, the proposed tax abatement applies only one phase of the plan, the Pacific South Project Area. That project would receive 25 years of abatement, including 10 years of full abatement of real property taxes on the assessed valuation of improvements and increased assessed valuation of the land, followed by 15 years of 50% abatement. 

Property tax abatements for the remaining project areas would be subject to future amendments of the plan or to separate redevelopment plans that must be approved by council. 

The Pacific South redevelopment project is projected to collect an additional $1.2 million in property tax revenue over the 25-year period compared with the amount collected if the project does not occur, according to the report. 

Council and public response 
Councilmember Monica Horton expressed guarded enthusiasm for parts of the project as described, but she expressed concern about the four parts of the project being linked to council approval. 

“I really do see the potential for a substantial increase of residents, shoppers, tourists, employees and the like – additional businesses potentially coming,” she said.  

But she noted the structure of the redevelopment is a point of concern for her. She asked the developer’s representative, real estate attorney Shelby Wood of Spencer Fane LLP, if there was an expectation that the three projects that would not be cleared with passage of the council bill would be subject to separate development plans. 

Wood said the plans are lengthy and complex, and having the ability to craft separate plans that incorporate key provisions of the initial plan would bring efficiency to the process. 

Councilmember Craig Hosmer said he’s concerned that buildings have been allowed to slowly deteriorate while development was pending and while the developer was awaiting historic tax credit approval. 

“Obviously, nobody wants that to happen,” Hosmer said. 

Hosmer asked if the other buildings along the block would be preserved. 

“I can’t say with absolute certainty that every single one will be saved, but the goal is to save as many as possible,” Wood said. 

Eight representatives of Commercial Street and the Midtown neighborhood spoke during the public input portion of the meeting, with most saying they are in favor of the first phase of the plan, the Pacific South multifamily development. 

Christine Schilling, a C-Street property owner, said the developer met with stakeholders and adapted some plans following input. 

“It was a great process,” she said, noting she would like to engage in that process again. 

Schilling said she was concerned about scope creep if council approves the entire plan. 

“It does maybe imply that there might be some further approval of the process before all the other steps and stages have been met, so that concerns me a great deal,” she said.  

She added that she is concerned for the maintenance and preservation of the historic structures on Commercial Street.  

“Rehabilitation is a funny word, and it doesn’t necessarily mean what it means in physical therapy,” she said. “It could very well mean destruction, and the fact that we cannot get a guarantee that we are going to be able to save the buildings in our existing historic district concerns me a great deal.” 

Horton said she would like to see the Pacific South phase move forward, and she would like to see the remaining three projects separated out and addressed individually. 

“If City Council approves the entire redevelopment plan, it feels like tacit approval of the entire plan before we’ve gotten clearance on future phases,” she said. 

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