Affordable housing and business incubation complex to be built in north Springfield

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 9:51 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Developers in Springfield are getting a boost from federal funding. It’s thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act.

One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods will benefit.

“C Street actually hasn’t seen any new development from the ground up in 50 years,” said Patrick McWhirt, creative director for the Vecino Group.

Over the years Commercial Street in north Springfield has gone through a resurgence.

The Vecino Group, a firm that specializes in affordable and sustainable housing, will put $4.5 million of American Rescue Plan Funds awarded by Greene County towards a housing and retail complex to be built on the corner of Commercial Street and Campbell Avenue.

“Zone 1 qualifies for that. There’s been a housing crisis for quite a long time across the country. It hasn’t gone away. It’s something that the pandemic made worse,” he said.

McWhirt calls the apartments above the retail space affordable workforce housing.

“If you make 60 percent average medium income or less you would qualify to live in this proposal that we have,” he explained.

Plans for the multi-story building will also include a business incubation hub.

“Specifically black-owned businesses. They can get a chance to kind of test the waters here on C Street and thrive. Basically, start those businesses that help the economy and help everybody,” said McWhirt.

Dr. Lyle Foster said, “The ARPA legislation uses a very powerful word of ‘transformational’ projects. That made a lot of sense to us. In other words, projects that could have a community impact for years to come.”

He is on the county’s ARPA commission and says that the money is being divided into several different categories to address areas of community needs.

Sankofa, as the project planned for Commercial Street is called, falls into the county’s community impact program.

The two other categories include small businesses and non-profits.

“We were interested in doing some things that would have a significant impact that maybe 5 years from now we can say this was accomplished with ARPA funding,” said Foster.

McWhirt said, “We thought this is a way we can actually help out our community here in Greene County, in Springfield, in zone 1 specifically.”

The Vecino Group is still securing additional funding for the project.

The new complex could be up in about a year and a half though no start date has been announced yet.

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