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Restaurants, development planned for former McMurray’s site

A proposed development on the site of the former McMurray’s Irish Pub could bring two franchise restaurants to Springfield, including a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, but at least one neighbor believes the development could hurt property values.

The site at East College Avenue and North Limestone Street is owned by City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill, who hopes to have construction begin in October and the development completed next spring.

The proposed development is 6,400-square-feet with four, approximately 1,600-square-foot storefronts, two of which could be combined into one larger location.

“We’re leaving our options open to do that,” O’Neill said.

A fire gutted the popular McMurray’s Irish Pub, 122 E. College Ave., in June 2013. It was later demolished and relocated next door to the former Woods-Allgier Funeral Home, 625 N. Limestone St.

Cost estimates for the project are still being formulated, O’Neill said. The storefronts would face North Limestone Street.

A Jimmy John’s franchisee has purchased in the Springfield area, according to a restaurant representative, but no other information was available. The chain specializes in delivering sandwiches, particularly near college campuses. As of June 2014, it has about 1,900 franchises nationwide, including six Dayton-area locations.

Another national franchise is considering the development, O’Neill said.

“They’re looking pretty seriously,” he said.

Paddy’s Backdoor Pizza, also owned by O’Neill, is considering opening a storefront in the location. The business currently works out of a much smaller kitchen in the new McMurray’s building.

“We struggle every day to try to make it work,” he said.

A public hearing and first reading will be held at tonight’s city commission meeting as part of a request to rezone the property for parking for the proposed development.

The City Planning Board unanimously approved July 7 rezoning less than an acre near the site, including three properties from residential to community commercial district. The rezoning would make the properties consistent with the property at 625 N. Limestone St., also owned by O’Neill, and create shared parking for both the development and the new McMurray’s Irish Pub location.

The building behind the bar might be converted into a building for its catering business.

O’Neill has owned the property since 1992 and said he wants to enhance the corridor.

“We can grow that entire area,” he said. “That’s the throat of downtown Springfield, from north to south.”

However, fellow City Commissioner Karen Duncan said the development could hurt the property value of her home located around the corner at 500 N. Fountain Ave. The home is listed for sale for $495,000. She spoke at the planning board meeting last month.

“It’s a disadvantage to me personally,” Duncan said. “I understand why the planning board voted as they did. They made the decision they made based on what’s the best thing for the whole community. As a private citizen, I have my right to express my opinion.”

Duncan is concerned it will bring much more traffic to the neighborhood and College Avenue, which currently doesn’t see a lot of cars.

“It’s residential traffic, it’s very few cars and they’re relatively going slowly,” she said.

Neither O’Neill nor Duncan will vote on the issue at the city commission meeting in two weeks. They weren’t permitted to speak with planning board members or other commissioners about the issue.

The neighborhood has transitioned from homeowners to renters over the past 10 years, Duncan said.

“There’s been a drastic change,” she said.

The College Hill Neighborhood Association isn’t opposed to the development and believes most of the traffic will be Wittenberg University students on foot, said Robert Goodfellow, association president. He wished O’Neill luck on the proposed development.

“It will look better than that bare lot sitting there,” Goodfellow said.

The development can do nothing but help Duncan’s property, O’Neill said.

“I guess the fear would be in the unknown,” he said. “She doesn’t know what it’s going to be.”

The new development would be a welcome addition on the nearby Wittenberg campus, especially the Jimmy John’s, said senior Sean Kelleher, who was playing disc golf on Monday afternoon. The late-night delivery will be popular with students, he said.

“It will be great,” Kelleher said. “At a lot of my friends’ schools, Jimmy John’s is like the go-to late-night food. I’d rather eat a bunch of subs than greasy pizza.”

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