SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The University Heights Neighborhood Association said developers are holding a meeting Thursday evening to talk about plans to re-zone five houses near National Avenue and Sunshine Street.
Neighbors said developers have purchased homes on Sunshine, University, and National to potentially turn into retail development.
“The homes in question are historic homes that have a very long history here in Springfield,” University Heights Association Board Member Donna Hemann said. “They are iconic. People talk about having dreamed of living there some day.”
Other neighbors say they chose to buy a home in University Heights because of its historic charm.
“I’ve always thought what amazing opportunity it would be to live in this neighborhood because this is a very classic, historic neighborhood,” Rebecca Gilmore said. She and her husband have lived in their home off University Avenue for 14 years. “We’ve always admired it. My husband and I are both native Springfieldians and we thought, wow, we get to live in University Heights.”
Some families are worried about the potential traffic new retail could bring to the already busy intersection.
“We don’t need any more problems and congestion at the corner of Sunshine and National,” Hemann said. “It’s bad enough as it is just living on this street.”
The neighborhood association said one thing they would like to propose at Thursday’s meeting is buying the houses from the developer and potentially using the land for a different purpose.
“[We could] use it as really sort of a neighborhood hub where we can work as a neighborhood association and provide information to the public, maybe have events there for the neighborhoods,” Hemann said. “[We could also] possibly use [the area] as a green space and maybe partner with the art museum or other arts entities and have some big sculpture there.”
The zoning meeting is taking place at the Messiah Lutheran Church from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday the 18th. Neighbors like Gilmore hope the developers will change their minds.
“I think it’s very disheartening that someone would come into our historic, beautiful old neighborhood with these beautiful old homes and destroy it with some retail that we don’t need,” Gilmore said. “Go find someplace else that there’s more commercial. Don’t destroy a historic neighborhood.”