Springfield, MO In recent years, the historic Rountree Neighborhood has become an attractive place to live. New shops and restaurants have opened over the past few years, drawing more people to the area. However, many residents are concerned that potential apartment developments could impact their quality of life.
"Rountree is hip; it is quaint; it is cool; it is quirky, said Mike Brothers, a Rountree resident and board member of the Rountree Neighborhood Association. " It is just an inviting place that you just want to be."
"This is still a store that I can have neighborhood kids come up and buy candy and pop and have that kind of stuff going on," said
Rountree resembles a small town within the city. But, many people in this older area are growing concerned about a new type of neighborhood- high-density student housing apartments.
"They do call it the canyon, and we have seen how it looks," said Bailey. "One is how does it look initially and how does it look in five years."
These big tall student housing units are going up on many streets around the Missouri State University campus. Many of these buildings encompass one or more blocks of space and can be four and five stories high. The apartments have become popular in recent years with students seeking an alternative to traditional dorm life.
"It's nothing against those developments," Brothers said. " They are serving a great purpose. Those are nice developments, frankly. We are just not sure that kind of development is great all the way down the Cherry corridor."
The street is already zoned for high-density housing, which means it's plausible more apartment complexes could be built. In fact, developers have been expressing interest in new student housing projects.
That's why the neighborhood is now working with the city planners on a blueprint for the future and potential development. Those involved in the process explain it's not about discouraging development.
Brothers explained, "The key idea is how we can take all of this and make sure it meshes with whatever happens with this."
Neighbors are concerned about whether such future developments would blend in with the surroundings from an architectural standpoint. More important, residents say, they'd be worried about the safety of pedestrians, and parking and traffic problems.
"As small businesses, we like the increase in foot traffic," Bailey explained. "We also have concerns about traffic and parking."
The process started after the recent construction of Cherry Flats student housing. Rountree residents know more the possibility of more development is not a matter of if, but when.
"Change is inevitable. We know that," Brothers said. "The new process the city is initiating is going to help everybody be a voice and be a part of that change together as a group."
The current Rountree neighborhood plan has been in place for 30 years. The talks and planning with the city are expected to continue through the summer and fall. A new plan should be in place by the end of the year.