Downtown Springfield market seeks historic status

A nonprofit has applied for recognition on the National Register of Historic Places for a downtown Springfield market that opened more than a century ago as part of efforts to re-use the vacant property.

Myers Market was built in 1916 at 101 S. Fountain Ave., where it hosted a variety of vendors who served city residents until the market closed in 1977. Discussions are ongoing that could eventually breathe new life into the building as a year-round farmer’s market once again.

United Senior Services also operated the nearly 17,000-square-foot property as a senior center from 1982 to 2016 but moved after it renovated a different downtown site.

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Although the city of Springfield owns the site, SpringForward — a nonprofit dedicated to targeting investment downtown — sought the historic designation, said Ted Vander Roest, executive director of the Springfield Foundation. SpringForward is in talks with the city to convert the property into a year-round indoor market and initially planned to seek historic tax credits to cover some of the costs to redevelop the site.

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That might no longer be the case for now, Vander Roest said, but the designation is still beneficial because of the recognition as a historic site.

“We decided, with the size of the project, to go ahead and put it on the registry but probably not apply for the tax credits right now,” Vander Roest said. “We should have a decision with the city in the next few weeks.”

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Part of the reason SpringForward decided to hold off on seeking tax credits is because it would take more than a year to acquire the credits, and the project would compete for tax credits with the McAdams Building at 31 E. High St., Vander Roest said. SpringForward also is assisting on converting that site into market-rate apartments as part of a roughly $17 million project.

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Instead of tax credits, the bulk of money for renovations at the Myers Market building would likely come from SpringForward if the project moves forward, he said. Although SpringForward has sought some cost estimates for the market project, it’s still too soon to say accurately how much that work might cost, Vander Roest said.

Nathalie Wright, a historic preservation consultant who wrote the application, said the market fits the requirements to be included on the national registry in part because it’s a good example of the kind of market many similar cities were developing in that era.

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“The building was constructed during an era when many cities were commissioning new state-of-the-art market buildings, with the latest sanitary technological advances of the time,” the application stays. Wright’s application noted when the market opened, the Springfield News-Sun had called it the “most modern market building in the United States.”

There are no restrictions on how renovations to the building should look as long as SpringForward doesn’t seek historic tax credits, Wright said.

The property has been appraised at more than $898,000, according to the Clark County Auditor’s Office website.

The final decision to add a property to the national register is made by the National Park Service, which administers the program nationwide, said Tom Wolf, communications manager at the Ohio History Connection. The statewide organization is tasked with preserving the state’s history.

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