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Decades in the Making: Frisco Lane Parking for C-Street Merchants

Julie Greene

The president of Springfield’s Commercial Club is excited for how parking space development along Frisco Lane will impact north side merchants and their customers.

Mary Collette says attempts to acquire 67,000 square feet of open space and alleyway north of the buildings Commercial Street were a long time coming.   

“We call it overnight success after 25 years. Our first letter was written in 1992,” she says.    

Earlier this week, Springfield City Council approved a bill that allows for parking spaces on Frisco Lane and merchant access to the buildings.

Spaces will be made available once dumpster issues are resolved. A future goal of setting up a recycling station which would serve all four blocks may also impact parking spaces. 

Joe Gidman, who owns two businesses along C-Street, says the Frisco Lane access project allows Chabom Tea & Spice to grow.

“We plan to put a back door entrance on to the store as well, so that way if people park back there they have two entrances into the shop and we’ll be able to expand the size of the shop.”

Gidman says when his tea shop first opened; original plans included more food service and a larger seating area.

The cost of the almost $1 million project is mostly funded by a BNSF credit of $708,000 owed to the city. It’s from the 2.6 acres the railway purchased for a turnaround track used by coal trains coming to City Utilities’ Southwest Power Station. The Commercial Street Tax Increment Financing District is providing $267,508 in funds, and the remaining $25,747 will come from Springfield’s 1/8-cent Transportation Sales Tax.

Gidman also says he thinks Frisco Lane will help preserve the historical value of Commercial Street.

Frisco Lane parking will be available to merchant owners, employees and residents, leaving on street parking available to the public. According to a new release, BNSF has owned the property for more than 100 years. At the request of the railroad, the city intends to fence and gravel the parking area.