CoxHealth has confirmed plans to build a 22-thousand-square foot clinic in central Springfield.
The project was announced after City Council members approved changes to zoning at the southwest corner of National Avenue and Sunshine Street Monday night.
Members passed a request to change the zoning of four houses at the corner from Single-Family Residential to Office zoning.
CoxHealth President Steve Edwards says the hospital is under contract to buy two acres of property belonging to the late BJ March, a former Springfield lawmaker, and owner of Marsh Travel.
Edwards says the new clinic will fill a healthcare gap for Cox patients who live in the middle of the city.
“We were looking at the far east and west side of Sunshine. We also realized that we don’t have a clinic really between essentially Cox South and Cox North. There’s a six-mile stretch,” says Edwards during a media briefing on Tuesday.
“This is an important intersection in our community, and I can’t think of a better corporate citizen or a better use for this property,” added Councilman Richard Ollis before voting in favor of the zoning change during the Council meeting Monday night.
Edwards says the family of BJ Marsh recently reached out to the hospital about buying the properties.
To make room for new construction, Edwards says that four houses, including the Marsh Travel headquarters, will likely be demolished in the coming months.
Concerns have been raised by neighbors in the University Heights subdivision about stormwater run-off, traffic flow, and preserving trees on the Marsh property.
Edwards says Cox cannot save all the trees but plan to plant two more for everyone they remove.
“We care about the trees, we’ve been really good about our properties, developing them properly. We’ve already hired an arborist to give us recommendations about what trees we could move, can we move some to other locations, and then can we replant trees, so we feel really good about that.”
The City of Springfield’s Planning and Zoning Department did not put any restrictions on whether CoxHealth could or could not remove the trees.
However, the city has put restrictions on the height of the new clinic, limiting the building to two stories.
Edwards says it would be cheaper to build a one-story clinic, but is content with being able to build a 22-thousand square-foot facility.
When asked whether the clinic’s location will create more competition among Mercy and CoxHealth, Edwards compared it to having a Wendy’s across the street from a McDonald’s, or a CVS next to a Walgreens.
“I think Cox and Mercy together, the competition makes our community better. It makes more jobs, it grows the economy. So, it may be awkward, but they have clinics near our facilities as well,” said Edwards.
Edwards says the hospital is still in the planning and design phase of the project, discussing specifics like whether the building will contain urgent care.
He says construction will likely take a year to complete once the designs are finalized.