Economic development in Springfield is booming and has been for many, many years. In the past decade, we’ve seen some amazing new features spring up in our city and the surrounding area. The revitalization of buildings like Sky Eleven, Hotel Vandivort and many others have changed the landscape of downtown Springfield. Farmer’s Park has created a south side center for lodging and business. And of course, the amazing addition of Wonders of Wildlife has breathed a new life into the city as a destination. There’s more on the way, too. The city is expanding outward and with it, many new and exciting places will arise. Let’s take a look at some of the planned new developments in the Ozarks!
By now, you’ve probably heard about the boom in Galloway. Big name local brands in the city have relocated to the neighborhood as early adopters of an exciting new hot spot in town. Digital marketing agency Mostly Serious, apparel brand Culture Flock and Acacia Spa are some of the first to choose Galloway as a destination. It’s also the destination for new ventures like the increasingly popular 4 x 4 Brewing Company and a new Jalili family restaurant called Chops. This trend seems likely to continue as space inside the city runs out. Developer Matt O’Reilly is ready for it. Back in 2016, he pitched the idea of a new environmentally friendly place called Quarry Town. This new district would be focused on energy efficiency, offering Tesla charging stations, solar panels and plenty of other new tech amenities. It will have 20,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space and more than 100 apartments. It should be complete soon!
In 2017, the Springfield Art Museum received a very generous anonymous donation that paved the way for its master plan, which was recently unveiled in time for its 90th anniversary. The renovations are no joke. The plans would catapult the museum into a class of its own in the area and perhaps even beyond. In addition to extensive remodels inside, the outside expansion is perhaps one of the most exciting in the proposed renovation. It would provide connectivity to the nearby park, place a focus on nature with the inclusion of a winding stream and completely change the exterior of the building to be more “22nd century.” Being just a few turns away from the now famous Wonders of Wildlife would continue to create a fluid experience to visitors from others cities, but it would also put a spotlight on our city’s awesome tradition of art and artists.
If you’ve been downtown in the past few months, you’ve no doubt noticed some new construction on either side of Historic Walnut. On the McDaniel side, owners John and Billy McQueary are planning a massive four story expansion to the Hotel V concept. It’s being called the Vantage due to its planned rooftop bar that will immediately become the city’s premier spot to enjoy the skyline of Springfield. It will include more than 40,000 square feet of space and will nearly double the number of rooms currently offered by Hotel V.
Perhaps the largest development in the works right now is the $500M, 100-acre plan coming together in south Springfield on Campbell Avenue. RW Developments plans to break ground on The Ridge at War Branch in the first quarter of next year. Springfield Business Journal reporter Geoff Pickle reported on the development in July of this year. According to Pickle, the Ridge will wrap around the Library Center and extend to the south. It was once the Ward Family farm and developer Trip Rhodes, co-owner of RW Developments has said that the plan is to keep much of the original landscape while adding features like a walking and biking trail.
The Morris Family has helped put Springfield on the map in many ways and they’re looking to do the same for Ozark in the near future. Megan Morris, daughter of Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris, is leading a project to revitalize the Finley River area. Her plan is to create new district in the city in the vein of Dogwood Canyon and Top of the Rock. Similar to other Morris Family developments, Finley Farms is said to be focused on the history and existing beauty of the Finley River area. The plans are not to completely change things, but rather to accentuate the things people already love about that section of Ozark. Morris has announced plans to include a restaurant, nature trails, a speakeasy bar and plenty of other exciting features. Additionally, the plans include an effort to save the Ozark Mill, a historic landmark that has a special sentiment to many folks in the city.
Photo by Sydni Moore/ CC Headliner News
Springfield is going to make David Sedaris eat his words. The recently blighted Kearney Street corridor at its intersection with Kansas is a 360+ acre plot that the city is promoting as a prime place for new businesses. City Council conducted research to devise a plan to incentivize the area for entrepreneurs and found that an untapped retail potential of $95 million exists in the area. Not much is known at the moment about what businesses and attraction will arrive in the Kearney Corridor, but the study commissioned by City Council suggested a food truck park, a European-style food hall, restaurants, and clothing retailers. Plus, there have been rumblings of a North Side Target! In addition to new places to eat and shop, the study also suggests expanding walkability with new crosswalks, sidewalks and more connectivity to make getting around a bit easier. We’ll be keeping on eye on further developments here, but it’s exciting news for the North Side!
If you don’t know the name Titus Williams yet, you will soon. Williams is the mind behind the rebranding of the Missouri Hotel on Commercial Street, but he’s got much more in mind for the district. He purchased the ‘MoHo’ building and has plans to turn it into a boutique hotel. He’s also been investing in numerous properties in the surrounding area with a vision of an interconnected community. Williams sees C Street as an experience more than a destination and he wants to create the synergy between living, visiting and working in the district.
Another big project in its early stages is the creation of a unique outdoor gathering space around the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge. Back in 2017, nine Drury architecture students presented their ideas for the further improvement of the C Street area, including nearby Blaine Street. The Footbridge commons area was just one of many brought by the students. At this point, these ideas are just suggestions, but Commercial street stakeholders loved the new concepts and were said to have considered them when planning further development.
One of the biggest talking points in the future development of Springfield is connectivity. Many influential people in our community are trying to think of way to make it easier to navigate and move between attractions in town, specifically from USA Today’s Number one Aquarium in the Country, Wonders of Wildlife. With this new tourist destination, finding ways to connect visitors to other local spots is on the minds of the planners and developers of Springfield. One idea has excited City Council and businesspeople greatly over the past few months. The Grant Avenue Parkway Trail has been proposed as a means to provide a direct pathway from W.O.W. to the Downtown District and Commercial Street. It would expand on the already celebrated Greenway Trails and accomodate a more pedestrian crowd. Aside from attaining the coveted connectivity, this proposed trail would also make travel safer for people not using cars. Another idea that has been floated in conjunction with the trail is a bike or motorized scooter sharing system that would make the commute time shorter between the two areas. All in all, the trail would move from Wonders of Wildlife through Downtown Springfield, then through C Street and end at the proposed site for the IDEA Commons, which is next on our list.
The IDEA Commons project is the brainchild of the Vecino Group and Missouri State University. It would be a transformational project to Downtown Springfield according to Mary Lilly Smith, Director of Planning and Development for the city. The goal is to create an informational hub for the business community and a place to display the unique identity of Springfield. Current proposals indicate the project would include a new 400-space parking garage, 100,000 square feet of office space and a 30,000 square foot extension of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, according to reporting from Alissa Zhu of the Springfield News-Leader. The goal is to attract more businesses from the technology sector to relocate to Springfield. With groups like the eFactory garnering national attention for accelerating local businesses in the tech sector, it makes perfect sense to see our community putting a focus on expanding on those successes. The IDEA Commons was initially remembered for the the suggestion of creating a large statue of a cashew to signify a piece of our city’s identity, but it will be remembered for its transformative innovation for much longer.
Unlike the other developments on this list, the Blackwell Food Hall is a single entity, but it’s one that could be very influential on the future of restaurants in Springfield. Blackwell will take the place of the Bistro Market on South and Walnut, a prime location for a dining experience that focuses on variety. Food halls are springing up in major metropolitan areas all across the country. Blackwell investor Jim Wilson describes the concept “the grown-up, more-diverse cousin of the mall food court.” Patrons will have tons of choices and groups can all order from different vendors. The 10,000 square foot space could have up to 15 different kinds of cuisine, according to a Springfield News-Leader report from Greg Holman. Possible food offerings in the Blackwell are said to be frozen custard, Kansas City-style barbecue, pizza by the slice, Austin-style tacos, sushi burritos, ramen, a bagelry, a butcher shop, a farm stand and flower sales. These are subject to change as the development takes shape.