A stalled development at the former Simon Kenton Elementary School site will likely begin construction this fall after five years of waiting for the economy to bounce back in Springfield.
The 12.6-acre Village Greene Development, 1221 E. Home Road, will include retail stores, office buildings and a residential area, according to owner Mike Hufford of Keith Lynn Associates of Springfield.
“It’s been a long five years,” Hufford said. “We think it’s a great site. It’ll be great for the community.”
The Springfield City Planning Board approved rezoning the development on Monday evening. The request now heads to city commissioners.
The first phase of the project will be a new Dollar General store, which will begin construction once the zoning and other approvals are finalized by the city. It’s expected to be open by the holidays, Hufford said. The store will provide both groceries and retail needs.
Jaclyn Dees, a spokeswoman for Dollar General, said the store will be about 7,200 square feet and will bring six to 10 new jobs to the area.
The company is set to build 635 new stores and add 6,000 jobs nationwide this year. The expansion, Dees said, is about customer convenience.
“We try to serve our customers within a three-to-five mile radius, or a 10-minute drive,” Dees said. “The more stores we have, the more convenient it is for (our customers).”
Hufford has developed other Dollar General stores, and said the company is returning to the neighborhood market concept in urban areas where people can walk or in rural areas without other stores nearby.
The company currently has four locations in Clark County, including in the Southern Village and Western Plaza shopping centers.
“It’s a great concept,” Hufford said. “It’s getting great reception around the country.”
The development was first planned in 2008, but prospective tenants backed out when the recession hit.
The site will have two lots for standalone businesses nearest Home Road, while a shopping center or office building will be located behind those buildings. The four buildings would create more than 59,000 square feet of commercial/office space.
“We’re still marketing those (other lots) and looking for tenants and buyers,” Hufford said. “There’s nothing concrete on those yet, but we do have some interested folks we’re talking with.”
A “retail anchor” will likely fill the spot at the corner of Derr and Home roads, he said.
The plans call for a residential development behind the shopping center of single-family homes or condominiums.
He’s unsure when the development will be fully completed.
“We’ve had interest in some of the parcels that have been put on the back burner because of the economy, but things are more active out there in today’s environment than they were a few years ago,” Hufford said. “Hopefully, it’s a promising sign.”
Bryan Heck, the city’s planning and zoning administrator, said any new investment in Springfield is good for the community.
“It’s good to see the development survive the economic recession and the developer is ready to move forward with the project,” Heck said.
Heck said he received no objections from the neighbors in the area.
“It’s a good location in terms of the traffic volume generated there,” Heck said.
The Village Greene development is one of three former school sites currently being reused.
The Limestone Center, which includes the Nationwide Children’s Close to Home Center, sits on the former Roosevelt Middle School site on North Limestone Street. Grace Missionary Baptist Church recently purchased the former Kenwood Elementary School site, 1301 Beacon St., for $30,000 according to public records.
“To be able to redevelop them and put them back into productive use is good for the community,” Heck said.