When it comes to community growth, bringing new business to Springfield and attracting or retaining talent has long been a top concern. According to March 1 results of Springfield Business Journal’s 2020 Economic Growth Survey, talent acquisition and retention ranked second out of 16 issues facing businesses over the next five years, with 63% of respondents saying it was in the top five. Attracting more business to Springfield ranked fifth among most important issues over the next five years.
Improving available housing is one way forward, says Mary Lilly Smith, director of planning and development with the city of Springfield.
“It’s about having a diversity of housing types available,” she says. “And it’s become even more important to be able to provide those kinds of places where you can have your live-work space.”
It’s not just about building more units says Rob Haik, architect and principal founder of architecture firm H Design Group LLC.
Today’s multifunctional spaces are designed to meet the live-work-play model expected by demographics of all ages. H Design Group is involved with several such new developments including Treadway, a mixed-use complex recently approved by City Council for Galloway Village after more than two years of discussions between the city, developer and neighborhood. During that time, the city instituted a one-year development moratorium for the area to gather community input.
“We try to balance the desires of all sides,” Smith says.
One example in Galloway is a set of guidelines the city created to address neighborhood concerns, which includes design priorities for bike and pedestrian safety, environmental preservation and historic mixed-use developments. In addition, conversations with veteran architect Tim Rosenbury – hired by the city to serve as director of quality of place initiatives – changed the scope of development, Haik says.
Rosenbury, Haik’s one-time mentor, helped facilitate compromise, which in turn encouraged smarter design as Treadway evolved, Haik says.
“We took Tim’s lead and started talking about vernacular architecture, talking about forms and shapes you would expect to see with the historical architecture that shaped the Galloway area,” Haik says.
While pockets of neighborhood resistance still exist, the final plan approved by City Council in September preserves four historic buildings, reduces the overall unit footprint by one-third, improves pedestrian safety, provides street improvements and incorporates a stream buffer, among other changes.
Speaking to the city’s role, Haik says, “Even though we still have opposition, what I’m learning from it is that we don’t ever run from it, but we learn from it. Not to say that the process is perfect. There are still some areas of flaw, but I think this first attempt is a great precedent for the city to move forward with.”
Smith says similar efforts may be applied to future developments under Forward SGF, a planning initiative to develop a 20-year comprehensive blueprint for Springfield’s future. Regarding Treadway, Smith says, “I think the guidelines in the end really gave us a better project than what we were presented with two years ago.”
Haik agrees: “It really reinforces that concept of living, learning, working, playing and how that impacts not just the neighborhood but the community as a whole.”
Content brought to you by H Design Group LLC.
Once a week this time of year, roughly 150 men trade business suits and work attire for baseball uniforms – complete from caps to cleats – for the Grip N Rip Baseball league.