Agreement could help downtown parking issues

The city could use income tax revenue from the soon-to-be relocated Clark, Schaefer and Hackett for parking improvements downtown, according to public documents.

The city and the accounting firm recently announced an employee incentive agreement which will move the company to recently renovated Bushnell Building, 14 E. Main St., with parking considerations. City commissioners approved the agreement at Tuesday’s meeting.

The company will generate approximately $86,000 in income tax revenue for the city, assuming employment numbers are met, said city manager Jim Bodenmiller.

“We have every indication they will be, and we’re excited to have them,” Bodenmiller said.

The city plans to use 50 percent of the tax revenue to establish a Downtown Parking Account, which will be used to:

• develop additional parking facilities in downtown, including but not limited to one or more parking garage structures,

• maintaining and expanding current parking facilities in downtown or,

• signs and other parking management fixtures and equipment.

The city will use money from the account to lease or make available 20 spaces for Clark, Schaefer and Hackett, if parking becomes an issue downtown.

The firm has 55 employees with $4.75 million in wages per year, according to public documents. They’ll occupy about 17,000 square feet on the fifth floor of the building.

The company is investing $500,000 into the building and plans to relocate the office this fall. They’ve been located at 2525 N. Limestone St. since 1995.

After its $10 million renovation in 2011, the Bushnell Building will have all but 10,000 square feet occupied. Bushnell Building owner Jim Lagos said parking shouldn’t be a problem in the short term.

However, if tenants Clark, Schaefer and Hackett and CodeBlue continue their planned growth, more parking will be needed.

“We’re in desperate need of parking to expand employment,” Lagos said.

The city is still looking for funding for a $9 million, three-story, 450-space parking garage, expected to be located on the corner of West Columbia Street and North Fountain Ave.

“It continues to be something we work on,” Bodenmiller said.

Lagos said the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, public sector and private sector are all looking for ways to increase parking downtown.

“We’ve all got to work together to get this done,” Lagos said. “It’s all about future growth.”

Center City Association interim director Elaine Morris Roberts believes parking won’t be an issue because of the commitment of local leaders to finding more spaces downtown.

She’s excited about the accounting firm’s move to downtown, which will become a “catalyst” for growth everywhere. She believes it will have an impact on restaurants and retail stores.

“It’s a testament to the growth they think is going to happen downtown,” Roberts said.

Bodenmiller said leaders are still deciding whether the city-owned gravel parking lot on the corner of North Fountain Avenue and West Columbia Street will get a face lift later this year after bids came back higher than expected. The paved lot is expected to create approximately 104 parking spots.

The $1.2 million, two-way street conversion and streetscape improvements on Fountain Avenue is currently under construction downtown.

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