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Council approves blight designation, redevelopment plan for Springfield's historic Commercial Street

The Missouri Hotel, shown on March 25, 2024, is among the properties covered by the Commercial-Pacific Redevelopment Plan.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
The Missouri Hotel, shown on March 25, 2024, is among the properties covered by the Commercial-Pacific Redevelopment Plan.

The new plan for parts of the Commercial Street area includes a blight designation paving the way for tax breaks.

The latest Commercial Street redevelopment plan puts a blight designation on roughly 7 acres owned by developer Titus Williams, including the old Missouri Hotel. His plans include a 72-apartment townhome development known as “Pacific South” to replace the old Klingner Cope funeral home. Three other phases of renovations and new construction are expected to follow in the future. They would benefit from tax abatements through blight designation under Missouri law.

Northwest Springfield Councilwoman Monica Horton sought to amend the bill to approve only the Pacific South portion at this time. Horton argued the original bill wasn’t clear on what would be approved when.

She said, "I’m not sure that the original bill really outlines, and I know that the intent of the original bill is stated in such a way where it needed additional clarity.”

Councilman Craig Hosmer had similar concerns.

He said, "You know, in the 12 years I’ve been on council, I’ve never seen it... it just seems like we’re moving faster than really the project warrants. We can do the South project and do everything they’re entitled to get, they get everything they should get and people want them to get. But there are still unanswered questions about what the impact is on the historic district.”

Horton’s proposed amendment to slow down the blight and tax break approvals won only two other votes, from Hosmer and Councilwoman Heather Hardinger. So council moved to vote on the original bill.

Despite “no” votes from Hosmer and Horton, the Commercial-Pacific Street Redevelopment Plan was approved 7-to-2.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.