Ambitious redevelopment project planned for downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. The city of Springfield is working on a very ambitious plan to attract high tech businesses.

It's teaming up with Missouri State University and the Vecino Group development firm on the largest and most expensive project the city has ever planned.

IDEA Commons is already a fixture downtown. Part of Missouri State University, the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, will expand to an 88 acre urban research park.

"We're talking about major economic vitality corridors," said Springfield Mayor, Ken McClure.

The $55 million dollar project promises to continue redevelopment efforts in downtown Springfield.

It will include be a 100,000 square foot office building. A 30,000 square foot expansion will be added to the Jordan Valley Innovation Center. Parking garage and retail space among other features will also be built.

McClure said, "It will lead to further development, further jobs. We think additional businesses, growth as we move from there."

However, before all that can be built, the city has to work on improving the area.

Mary Lilly Smith, Planning and Development Director for Springfield said, "Our philosophy is always infrastructure projects should come alongside of private development."

Smith said plans for rehabilitating the area between Water Street and Chestnut Expressway has been years in the making.

"Big projects take a long time," she said.

The focus is to prevent the area from flooding.

"Long term we're looking at Jordan Creek and how we can reduce the flooding and storm water impacts on Jordan Creek. That really goes back to a decade-long study that we had funded partially by the Corps of Engineers," she said.

A large box culvert will be built across the development site to help divert water away from the buildings. New sidewalks, lighting and street-side landscaping will complete the new look.

The price tag for taxpayers for this part of the project is $2.8 million. The cost will be covered by money available in the 1/4 cent capital improvement sales tax reinvestment funds.

Smith said, "We're still continuing to do all the projects that we promised the public we would do in the quarter cent capital improvement sales tax. We're able to fund these projects as well."

"We need to grow. Communities that do not grow do not thrive," said McClure.

Construction could start by this time next year.