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Architecture Workshop Plans to Rejuvenate Section of Commercial Street

Kevy Cat

An architecture workshop on Saturday in Springfield will address the future of 3.5 acres of land along Commercial Street, including the Missouri Hotel. Owned by the Kitchen, Inc., the eight total buildings and several lots are up for sale as the non-profit relocates.

Faculty and students from the Hammons School of Architecture’s Center for Community Studies (CCS) will lead the session to identify how best to develop the area.  They will present their ideas to partners and stakeholders including the Landmarks Board and Springfield’s Planning and Development department.

Jeff Barber, housing specialist with the MU Extension office, says that the ideas within this forum are supposed to incorporate the whole of the neighborhood.   

“Redevelopment is a community approach. Rather than imposing ideas we bring precedence to the table and brainstorming and creativity, and we look at a range of possibilities before we narrow down what makes sense; not just for development but for the totality of the community surrounding the site there on the Kitchen campus.”

One of the main, and most well-known, buildings primed for renovation is the Missouri Hotel. Opening in 1930 as the Green Tavern, a bank and economically designed hotel, the hotel eventually lost its role within Springfield as the growth moved south and railway travel lost its appeal. It eventually became an emergency housing complex for homeless persons until it closed last year.

The landmark will serve as a focal point within the neighborhood scheme that is becoming a magnet to eclectic artisans and restaurateurs, says Barber, a demographic known as the “cultural creative.”

“As next generations age in these neighborhoods, we’re beginning to see an interest in re-sizing or down-sizing for other chapters of life. Empty nesters, persons with creative talent are now flocking to Commercial Street as kind of the creative edge of the community.”

As of now, the Kitchen has the properties grouped into one sale price. Barber says the organization is open to proposals for individual buildings or lots. There has been some interest in the properties, he says, but no offer has been made at this point.

The workshop is open to the public and will be held at the Savoy Ballroom on from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.