It took more than seven months, but Springfield will get its fourth 7 Brew Coffee drive-thru store, and it will be at the corner of Sunshine Street and Jefferson Avenue.
The Springfield City Council voted 5-3 on Jan. 9 to approve the zoning permit that will allow 7 Brew to sell its “mind blowing” beverages with three drive-thru lanes. The approval caps months of debate, two prior denials, and three recommendations of permit denial from the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission.
Along with Mike Schilling and Monica Horton, Councilman Craig Hosmer cast one of the three votes against the permit.
“I don’t think that it’s proper,” Hosmer said. “I think we’re trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.”
Reding Management owns a total of 1.08 acres of land on the southeast corner of Sunshine and Jefferson. The property sits across Jefferson Avenue from Jefferson Avenue Baptist Church, and across Sunshine Street from Sunshine Elementary School. Developer Royce Reding aims to build what would be Springfield’s fourth 7 Brew Coffee drive-thru store there.
The plan calls for a drive-thru shop with three lanes capable of holding up to 26 cars. Drivers would access the shop on the south side of Sunshine Street from Jefferson Avenue to the west and from Roanoke Avenue to the east.
In order to have the drive-thru operation, Reding Management had to have a conditional use permit from the city of Springfield. Without the permit, the company would have been able to operate a restaurant or drink shop with sitdown service inside the building.
The City Council voted to rezone the Sunshine and Jefferson property from residential to a limited business district earlier in 2022, but twice voted against granting the conditional use permit necessary for a business to operate with drive-thru lanes and windows.
Hosmer said he felt the conditional use skirts the intent of the limited business designation, and was a big part of his vote against the drive-thru permit.
“Even our own report says it’s an auto-intensive use,” Hosmer said. “It’s not good for the location, it’s not good for the neighborhood, it doesn’t meet the requirements of a conditional use permit. I don’t think the developer has shown us that this is a proper conditional use that would be compatible with the neighborhood.”
City Council could pause University Heights zoning cases to examine alignment with master plan
University Heights is home to the dispute at the corner of Sunshine Street and National Avenue, where developers from BK&M (Be Kind and Merciful) razed a house and proposed a multi-use development with restaurants, stores, offices and apartments.
Drive-thru service is a key component of the 7 Brew chain’s business model, along with upbeat music bumping through outdoor speakers and a cornucopia of flavor combinations.
Neighboring property owners brought up concerns with traffic jams at the Sunshine and Jefferson traffic light, 7 Brew customers cutting through residential streets, danger for pedestrians — especially children — people coming and going at all hours, and loud music as reasons they opposed the project.
The Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission took up the latest version of the Sunshine and Jefferson Case on Oct. 6, and voted 5-1 to recommend denial of a conditional use permit. City staff members recommended approval.