An artist’s rendering of the proposed development.

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Economic Development Agency (SEDA) on Monday mulled over two proposed developments for the Glenwood riverside in a private meeting, and at its regular meeting gave the city manager a thumbs-up for a loan acquisition for the future of the old Springfield Motors building. 

One of the two Glenwood proposals includes a 20-story hotel, and the other includes a soccer stadium and a skating rink. Both proposals include plans for various grades of housing, conference/hotel structures, parking, eateries and retail shops.

But Glenwood residents in open session on Monday are worried the projects will drive them out of their homes. 

I hope that (the City and developers ) consider that there are people that live here in this neighborhood now, and I hope that you can integrate us,” Glenwood resident Benjamin Cooper said. “I hope that you can actually facilitate redevelopment while addressing the consequences of change to existing residents and businesses … I think it will be a more livable neighborhood if (residents) can be integrated here. It will seem less artificial.” 

Another Glenwood resident, Kellyn Gross, said that they live on North Brooklyn Street “at the middle of the Glenwood redevelopment proposals … I noticed that in the Glenwood development LLC map renderings, my home is a round-about, and in the LOCALIS map renderings, it’s a bioswale.”

Gross said that, “My neighborhood was talked about like none of those people exist or live here, and there’s a lot of casual speaking about plans that will result in people being displaced from their homes during a pandemic – when there’s a housing shortage of rental units. My immediate neighbor is an elderly veteran who’s lived in his rental for 20 years.”

Gross encouraged the board to vote down both proposals, “and would rather see (the City) refocus development ideas to affordable housing, public facilities and public access to the riverfront through conservation of open space and the existing ecology. 

Plans for the next public SEDA meeting to discuss the properties will be held in early May. 

Springfield Motors

It won’t be long before new life will be breathed into the iconic Springfield Motors Buick building at 702 A St.

City Manager Nancy Newton on Monday was authorized to execute a $2,000,000 loan to Blue McKenzie LLC for acquisition and pre-development work for the site which includes an eight-story mixed-use building, the majority of which will be housing. 

It’s a site of the longtime family-owned and operated business. 

“We’ve had that property now for over four years, and had operated the Buick dealership there for over 72 years,” owner Robert Scherer said at this week’s SEDA meeting. “(The Scherer family) wanted something to do with this property that is an investment, but also as a way to continue giving back to the community that I have lived in my entire life.” 

According to a City memo, the board has been engaged in this project since the summer of 2019, when the Scherer family first approached the City and wanted to ensure that, in the wake of retirement, that that corner of Downtown be a bright and vibrant part of Springfield’s future. 

Sherer said that a multifamily substantial project like this “is a different project than what Springfield has seen before.”

The project includes an eight-story mixed-use building, seven of which are a total of 85 of market-rate residential units; a one-story ground floor commercial space that is around 5,000 square feet; and mass timber construction, which uses large solid wood panels for wall, floor and roof construction. It can also include innovative sculptural buildings, and non-building structures formed from solid wood panels or framing systems.

He said he believes it will instill more “civic pride” within the community. “I think it’ll bring back more benefits to the city, both in this individual project and then other projects that it can jumpstart,” he said.