Bringing back business: Kearney Street revitalization study will be finalized soon

Published: May. 15, 2017 at 10:59 PM CDT
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Kearney Street, once full of activity and business, has seen a decline in recent years. However, a new study is looking at ways to reverse the trend and make the corridor a center of activity again.

Just like traffic heading over the hill on Kearney Street,

business along the corridor has had its own ups and downs. Right now is not a high point.

"Yeah, I would say it is a little forgotten," said Jennifer Wallace, a manager at Greene County Freight and Food Sales.

The store, located on West Kearney, recently moved into a new building. But, the company has been in business on the street for more than 30 years. It's one of the places thriving along a corridor dotted with a lot of empty buildings and for lease signs.

The City of Springfield is wrapping up a study project with consulting firm PGAV; they're crafting a plan that could serve as a road map toward revitalizing Kearney.

"I think that would be great, because we are close to the highways, and there are a lot of great spaces up here that I think could be filled; I think it would be good," Wallace stated.

After spending weeks gathering input from citizens, the team presented its preliminary findings to the city council last month. A final report will be submitted within the next couple of weeks.

Changes have already been made that some say could benefit Kearney businesses. Last month, the city council repealed a decades-old ban on cruising along the street.

Ideas so far include turning the vacant Holiday Lanes bowling alley into a food hall and food truck court; trying to attract discount big box stores and restaurants; placing more of an emphasis on Route 66 in marketing and presentation of the corridor; and planting more trees and making the street more pedestrian-friendly.

The focus of this particular study is the three-mile stretch between Glenstone Ave. and Kansas Expressway.

"I think that's a really good idea. We are just curious as to what is going to happen. We don't know yet," said Linda Audas, owner of Other Mothers. ""It is always good to have new businesses in the neighborhood.."

Once the study completed, it will likely take years and a lot of money to get everything rolling. So far, proposals for funding include tax abatement, Community Improvement District, and loans for new businesses.

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