In a town with Bear Boulevard, Red Fox Lane and Wild Horse Drive, there may be a time and place for Beaver Road after all.
If you’ve driven east of Springfield on Interstate 44, you’ve likely seen the progress workers are making on a future roadside attraction in northeast Springfield. Buc-ee’s store No. 62 projects to be a 53,000-square foot store with 100 fuel pumps, food service, groceries, souvenirs and other goods for sale on the northeast corner of the I-44 interchange with Mulroy Road.
Part of Mulroy Road could become “Beaver Road” if the Springfield City Council approves a requested name change in December.
“We figured if French’s could have its Mustard Way, maybe we could have a Beaver Road,” said Stan Beard, director of real estate for Buc-ee’s.
The Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 on Nov. 17 to recommend changing the name of the part of Mulroy Road that sits north of I-44 to Beaver Road. The recommendation to rename now goes to the Springfield City Council for consideration.
Springfield Planning Department staff could not find records of where the original name of Mulroy Road came from.
Commissioners Britton Jobe, Bruce Colony, Bill Knuckles and Natalie Broekhoven cast affirmative votes for the Beaver Road renaming, while Randall Doennig, Eric Pauley and Chris Lebeck voted against it. The commission heard discussion on renaming part of Mulroy Road a second time, after reaching a tie vote on the proposed name change at a meeting Oct. 6. This time, the commission heard directly from a Buc-ee’s executive.
“We understand that it can’t be ‘Buc-ee’s,’ we get that,” Beard said. “If you want to go, ‘Brisket Road,’ I’ll do that, I’ll meet you halfway.”
Springfield Planning Manager Bob Hosmer explained the city of Springfield has a policy against naming streets directly for any company or business.
“However, this request is to rename Mulroy to Beaver Road, and is not directly referenced as the business name,” Hosmer said.
Hosmer gave examples of part of Madison Street becoming Bear Boulevard on the Missouri State University campus, and an unnamed county road off of Evans Road becoming Innovation Avenue for Innovative Dental. There is also East Mustard Way, which serves the French’s manufacturing site in the industrial park east of the Kearney Street interchange with U.S. Highway 65.
“The critical issue, where it gets dodgy is when you exit [Interstate 44],” Beard said. “The exits are going to be reconstructed pretty significantly, and both exits west and eastbound are going to have what are called teardrop movements, but they’re basically circular movements.”
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Bruce Colony wasn’t buying the idea of people losing sight of the mega gas station when they exit the highway. He also brought up that Buc-ee’s didn’t build Mulroy Road, and that it already existed when Buc-ee’s broke ground earlier this year.
“If you were building your own road into your development, and you chose to call it Buc-ee’s or Beaver Road or whatever, I would certainly have absolutely no objection,” Colony said. “There’s no way you’re going to convince me that people won’t find Buc-ee’s, especially there, when there’s absolutely nothing else around you at this point in time.”
Colony ultimately voted to support the name change.
Up to 12,000 cars expected to visit daily
Beard said the teardrop-shaped roundabouts — which are more elongated rather than round — could be confusing, especially for people who aren’t accustomed to driving through them.
“There is a lot going on there, and Buc-ee’s has on a typical day as many as 12,000 cars visiting the store, and three out of four of those cars are not from Springfield, they’re not from Greene County and they quite possibly are not from Missouri,” Beard said.
Beard said a name change would eliminate the chance of having a North Mulroy North and North Mulroy South coming off the interchange. Separating the part of Mulroy Road north of the interstate and giving it a new name, Beard said, would be a navigation aid for drivers who aren’t from Springfield.
Springfield has several streets with common names. There are countless Main Streets, Elm Streets and Walnut Streets, among others, across the United States. Springfield, however, will not join the ranks of cities with Buc-ee’s Boulevards.
“We have probably four other stores that are on Buc-ee’s Boulevards,” Beard said.
Buc-ee’s has a total of $9.2 million in tax incentives from the city of Springfield. First, the Springfield City Council reached a $4.1 million tax increment financing agreement that allows Buc-ee’s to hold half of the revenue generated from Springfield’s existing 1-cent general sales tax and its ¼-cent capital improvement sales tax. Second, a community improvement district sales tax will reimburse the developer for up to $5.1 million worth of work to North Mulroy Road.
Springfield City Utilities footed the $250,000 bill for part of the cost of running utilities to the mega gas station and convenience store. Buc-ee’s will be on all five of CU’s services. If additional commercial or industrial development happens on the acreage surrounding Buc-ee’s, City Utilities will eventually have to run more lines under I-44 to meet customers’ needs.
Buc-ee’s developers told Springfield city staffers that the store will employ 175 workers, and also has the potential to open up about 400 acres of neighboring farm land for purchase and development.
The Buc-ee’s company expects to spend $56 million to build its store and gas pumps in Springfield, with a target completion date in the summer of 2023.
Hammons, Barker, Gray among those honored by street names
While Springfield has a policy against naming streets after companies and businesses, it has named streets after people. The honored, aside from John Q. Hammons, include Lester Jones, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bob Barker and Wanda Gray.
Reporter’s addendum: You can also find Gaslight Circle (the street that lies to you and then convinces you that you were the one who was lying to yourself the whole time), Parallel Lane (the street that celebrates geometric precision), and el Fiesta Avenue (where there’s always a party going on.)