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Blighted Area Getting a Makeover for Brewery District Lofts

SPRINGFIELD, Mo, -- The 500 block of West Walnut in downtown Springfield will look very different by next summer.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo, -- The 500 block of West Walnut in downtown Springfield will look very different by next summer.

Buildings will be demolished or gutted and a new development is taking their place, the Brewery District Lofts.

"The main floor will be a mix of retail and restaurants and then the upper levels will be high end apartments," Architect Jarod Michel said.

"This obviously has a connection here to Brew Co., also there's another brewery down the street," he said.

But before the first brick is laid, the building had to be approved by city council and the area to be labeled as blighted.

That's because the developers are getting a tax break on the project.

"The tax abatement is an incentive to encourage redevelopment of blighted areas. It is city policy to require that the developer prove that the abatement is necessary," Senior City Planner Matt Schaefer said.

Which city council decided the developer did successfully when council members approved the project last week.

"You can see visible deterioration on the structures," Schaefer said, "There could be outdated wiring, plumbing, mechanical systems."

"In its current condition these properties are not living up to its highest and best use," he said.

He said replacing these buildings with the new lofts will benefit surrounding properties.

"It's going to make downtown a more desirable area to be," Schaefer said.

"And we know the Brew Co., we've talked with several people over there and they're real excited about it too," Michel said.

The new building will also be Leed Silver certified, meaning crews will recycle some of the existing building materials that get torn down.

They expect to start construction in the next couple months and have the project completed by fall of 2014.
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