SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield residents sitting in on a Plans and Policies Committee meeting this afternoon are voicing concerns to City Council members about what they feel is the importance of preserving historical buildings in Springfield. 

“We’re really, as a community losing out because heritage tourism is a massive economic development tool that we’re missing out on largely because somehow we don’t recognize the importance of it,” Mary Collette said. 

The agenda of the meeting discussed potential plans or incentives for developers who purchase buildings with historical significance.  

This comes, as starting Monday, September 25, demolition of a building on the end of Historical Commercial Street, near Washington is set to begin.  

Residents who spoke to OzarksFirst imply developers can use a tactic called “Demo-by-neglect”. 

“It’s when you buy a building, a historic building, and you do nothing to it and you just hang on to it, or what I call ‘warehoused’, until it falls into such a disrepair that the city basically has no choice other than to let you tear it down,” Shelly Gibson said.  

One of the residents tells me they don’t believe the deterioration of the building on the corner of Washington and Commercial is purposeful, but says it’s been done with other buildings, historical or not.  

Per city code, a building, regardless of its historical status, can be torn down if deemed unsafe.  

“My goal is always to save the building. My goal is always to, to, uh, preserve that historical value,” Brock Rowe, Director of Building Development Services said in the meeting. “But, there are cases where a building has floor collapses or completely, completely the sides of the walls are going out and you have you have structural issues.” 

The women who spoke to OzarksFirst called the meeting a step in the right direction.  

“I personally feel very good about the level of discussion and the interest of the city council to support historic preservation of the demolition by neglect processes,” Collette said. “We don’t know whether there will be a standalone ordinance or if there may be some mechanisms to add to existing ordinances.” 

The city of Springfield has alerted the public of traffic impacts with the intersection of Washington and Commercial shut down from Monday, September 25 at 8 a.m. to Wednesday, September 27 at 5 p.m.