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Springfield sells pool for $192K

The former Springfield Family Waterworks will be sold to the local Eagles lodge for $192,000, according to public documents.

The city commission authorized Tuesday the sale of the 6.6-acre former city pool, 715 N. Bechtle Ave., to the Champion Aerie 397, Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge.

“We’re happy it’s going to be put back into a productive use,” said Tom Franzen, assistant city manager and economic development director. “It should work out for them and suit their needs for the long term.”

The sale is expected to close within the next four months after more due diligence is performed by the Eagles.

“We’ve finally seemed to work our way through it,” said Midland Properties’ Pete Noonan, the Eagles real estate agent.

The Eagles currently location, 125 W. Main St., was recently sold to United Senior Services for about $1.5 million. The senior services agency isn’t expected to move until 2016.

“It’s going to be a win-win for both of them and the city of Springfield,” City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill said.

The property is “exactly what they wanted,” Eagles trustee Jerry Pillion said.

The Eagles made an offer on the facility last July, but the city opted to negotiate with a group of investors interested in building an indoor tennis and soccer complex at the former pool site.

However, the investors withdrew interest from the project and the city re-entered negotiations with the Eagles.

The club plans to demolish the old pool and build a 12,000- to 13,000-square-foot facility similar to the old location with a bar and ballroom, Pillion said, just on a smaller scale. The current downtown facility is nearly double that space at 24,000 square feet.

“These small clubs don’t have the membership like they used to,” he said. “The younger generation doesn’t join.”

The lodge currently has about 2,100 members and employs 20 people at its current location.

The organization is still receiving bids on the project and negotiating with contractors, Pillion said, and hope to have the project completed sometime next year.

The new location is great, he said, because of its proximity to Victory Lanes bowling center, where the Eagles hold tournaments, and is in a high traffic area with hotels.

“We want to make it a nice place for members and anyone who would like to join,” Pillion said.

The new development will beautify the area on Bechtle Avenue, Franzen said. The old pool property has been littered with graffiti since it closed in 2006.

“It’s been a drag,” Franzen said. “It may have been something we’d gotten used to looking at. From the city’s perspective, it will be nice to see it move forward and get cleaned up and have some new investment there.”

More people in the area could lead to increased sales, said Mark Lechner, the manager at nearby Wine Works, 1550 Commerce Road.

“It’ll be a better place for people to go,” Lechner said. “I think it will be a positive move for them. If it’s a positive move for them, it’ll be a positive move for everyone in the area.”

The development at the pool and current bridge replacement nearby will be good for the surrounding businesses and the city, said Tom Gates Sr., the president of Gates Brothers Glass. The company has a location across the street at 704 Bechtle Ave.

“The pool as it was, was a negative,” Gates said. “I’ve seen no plans, but I would definitely suspect this is a positive.”

The city will retain ownership of the current United Senior Services building at 101 S. Fountain Ave., formerly known as the Myers Market. The organization has leased the space from the city since 1981.

“Thankfully, we have some time as a development community to figure out what’s the best reuse for that facility moving forward,” Franzen said.

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