$2M renovation of historic Springfield market taking shape

Patrick Williams leads a tour of the new COhatch Market to show investors and city officials the progress of the construction Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Patrick Williams leads a tour of the new COhatch Market to show investors and city officials the progress of the construction Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Renovations to the old Myers Market in downtown Springfield may wrap up soon as it is being developed into a shared office space that will have a commercial kitchen, catering venue and food hall.

The approximately $2.2 million project seeks to transform the historic building into 18 office spaces, four restaurants and a shared kitchen that can be rented and used by startup businesses and food trucks, said Clark County native Patrick Williams who is spearheading the renovations.

“We think that this is going to be the community hub of our city. We think if something is going on in the downtown, it’s going to be happening here,” he said after giving a tour of the space, on South Fountian Avenue, to future occupants.

Williams said it is unclear when the project will be completely finished. He said the goal is to start wrapping up construction in the coming months. The facility was originally slated to open in mid-2019 after it was announced that it would be turned into a shared co-working space the previous year.

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City officials said significant progress has been made to the structure since it was purchased early last year by SpringForward, a nonprofit with the mission of boosting investment in the downtown area. The organization purchased the building from the city for $100,000 and has since partnered with Worthington-based company COhatch, which specializes in creating rentable co-working spaces for entrepreneurs, businesses and individuals.

Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said the city previously leased the Myers Market building to United Senior Services, which left the property in 2016 and moved to the Eagle building on West Main Street following a $6.7 million renovation there.

Heck said recent renovation projects in downtown Springfield are a “win-win” situation for the city. He said not only are the historic buildings seeing new life, companies such as COhatch are creating spaces that can help local entrepreneurs and businesses thrive.

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Another new aspect coming to the Myers Market building is a mezzanine that is being built over the portion of the space that housed the original market. The space will have a conference room and banquet room, Williams said.

Half of the offices that are currently under construction at the site have already been booked by area businesses, said Williams, who added that he usually receives between 10 to 15 inquires a week regarding the property.

“We will be full before we open,” he said.

A food hall that is being created at the space is also expected to have four permanent eateries, including a quick-service salad restaurant that will be operated by TAC industries, which employs people with disabilities with the goal of better integrating them into the community.

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Harrison Wang, who will manage the restaurant, said those employed/served by TAC will be involved in almost every step of the process including hydroponically growing the lettuce that will be served.

“My ultimate vision is really to get people (with disabilities) ready and certified to go out and get a job with any restaurant,” Wang said.

The food hall will also serve as the brick-and-mortar location for the Painted Pepper food truck, which has been serving Southwestern themed cuisine around the Springfield area for almost five years.

“I love the idea of the mobile concept that we have done and we are trying to bring that into a regular space to see what Springfield does with that,” said Louie Ortega who co-owns Painted Pepper with his wife Amanda.

Ortega said he was approached by Williams last year to turn the food truck into a restaurant.

“I wanted to kind of make the jump without making too big of a jump. We are still in a start up type of environment and kind of testing what that will look like,” Ortega said, adding that he plans on continuing to operate the food truck as well.

Working in the restaurant business for 15 years, Ortega will also be the resident chef at the former Myers Market building and will be in charge of catering events coordinated through COhatch.

The Springfield News-Sun has reported on the Myers Market numerous times including when it was purchased from the city and when the original idea of restoring the building was announced last year

By the numbers

$100,000: Sale price from city to SpringForward for Myers Market

16,941: Square footage of the market, according to the Clark County Auditor’s website

1916: Year Myers Market was built

1977: Year the market closed

1981: Year the market was converted to a seniors center