A fast-food restaurant is under construction at the site of a former historic building in downtown Springfield, a $1 million project that will add another dining option in an area that’s seen more than $400 million in development over the past 10 years.
A 3,300-square-foot Wendy’s restaurant is currently under construction at the former Memorial Hall site, 305 W. Columbia St., according to Springfield building permit records. Construction is estimated to cost $239,000, the permit says.
National Trail Parks and Recreation District sold the 80,000-square-foot property to Sandusky-based Neilson Property Ltd. for $775,000 last June.
“Any new dining option downtown is big, especially near (Springfield Regional Medical Center) and the ice rink,” Springfield Planning Zoning and Code Administrator Stephen Thompson. “It will be a good option for families who need something quick. The property sat vacant since Memorial Hall was demolished. Getting a new structure in an empty lot is a plus, for sure.”
The building is being constructed to unified plan standards, including a wall around the property similar to the Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital, Thompson said.
Springfield currently has five Wendy’s locations. The West North Street location is expected to move to the new West Columbia Street location before the end of the year, but construction is ahead of schedule, Wendy’s general manager Heather Perkins said.
The restaurant is a Wendy’s/Tim Horton’s combination restaurant and the building is owned by Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton’s is now owned by the same parent company as one of Wendy’s competitors, Burger King.
The Tim Horton’s location housed on West North Street will stay open, Manager Dana Preston said. She also believes another tenant will likely take Wendy’s place at some point.
Memorial Hall was listed on the Springfield Register of Historic Properties but was demolished in 2010 for the construction of the NTPRD Chiller downtown ice arena. After demolition, National Trail purchased the Memorial Hall site for about $825,000.
In 2012, however, the parks district opted to move one block south to the former Haucke complex on West Main Street near Lowry Avenue to save money. The $8.5 million ice arena opened in late 2013 and the Memorial Hall site was placed back on the market.
The money from the sale paid the remainder of the $2.85 million loan the city gave National Trail to complete the $8.5 million ice arena, parks district officials said last year. A portion of the money also went toward future improvements to the ice rink, as well as an endowment to help less fortunate children use the ice arena.
The new restaurant is another piece of the revitalization that downtown has seen over the past five to 10 years, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said, including two new hospitals and the ice arena. Local organizations, including SpringForward, will look to bring more people to live downtown, he said.
“It could always be faster,” Copeland said. “Obviously we’d love to have more development as quickly as possible. But I think again there have been some very significant positive changes is downtown Springfield and we hope to continue that process.”
Springfield resident Kathryn Long hopes to see more retail in downtown. The only time she comes downtown is to go to the post office, she said.
“If things were here in town, I think it would be much better,” Long said. “We lost all of our upscale stores like Macy’s, Elder Beerman. We really need just to be able to come downtown on a Saturday and do things in the Springfield area, not have to take our money elsewhere.”
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