This is the public notice located near the area facing south. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Part of a church property in northwest Springfield could be made into apartments and condos.

The Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the approval of a planned development on some of the Baptist Temple’s property at the corner of Talmage Street and Grant Avenue. The proposal came up at a public hearing Jan. 12 at Historic City Hall.

Engineer Mike Stalzer is the developer. The surrounding neighborhood, he said, is mostly 1960s-era ranch-style homes. He wants to divide the church property into 22 lots to build 22 houses.

“They’re going to be single-story, 1,200-1,400 square feet, low-pitch roof, probably some brick and then siding,” Stalzer said. “The intent is those would be whole ownership, to be sold.”

An overlaid map shows the Missouri Baptist Temple property in northwest Springfield near the intersection of Talmage Street and Grant Avenue. The shaded blue area would be developed into small houses and apartments. (Illustration from the Springfield Planning Department)

The plan calls for the Baptist Temple gymnasium to be retrofitted and made into an apartment building with 33 units.

“The infill renovation will be two-story within the building,” Stalzer said. “The units basically occupy the perimeter of the building.”

The interior of the apartment building will include fitness and laundry facilities and some storage space for tenants. Stalzer estimates the gym was built sometime in the 1970s. It has fallen into a run-down state, and the church does not use it anymore, according to planning documents.

“It’s basically a shell,” Stalzer said. “It needs a new roof, and then obviously there are going to be numerous windows placed in the building, so the skin of the building will be removed and then it’ll be reframed with siding of some sort, and look like a standard apartment building.”

There is a large parking lot behind the church. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Commission unanimous in approval recommendation

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Bruce Colony made the motion to recommend approval of the development to the Springfield City Council, which then took a 7-0 favorable vote.

“I am all about the sanctity of the neighborhood and protecting neighborhoods, and there aren’t very many of these neighborhoods with these big, open areas where we’ve enjoyed having this space, and it’s kind of sad to see them go,” Colony said.

However, Colony said he supported a property owner getting the best use out of their property, and that the development plan would put in housing at a density that matched the surrounding neighborhood.

The front of the Baptist Temple is off Grant Avenue near Talmage Street. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Two neighboring property owners spoke against the development proposal, citing concerns over traffic, stormwater runoff, increased population density leading to the potential for an increase in crime, and the character of the area.

“It is a single-family neighborhood,” Chad Ray said. “You’re adding 33 multifamily units.”

Laurie Brotherton lives nearby on Broadway Avenue, and is concerned with the apartment complex creating more traffic on Talmage Street and Woodridge Street to the north.

“The apartment complex would open directly onto Talmage Street, which is right across from the front door of Watkins Elementary,” Brotherton said. “During the morning hours and the afternoons when the parents are dropping their kids off and picking them up, the street is lined up on both sides with cars, and that’s where the entrance is to this apartment complex.”

There are four residential lots immediately to the east of the Baptist Temple gymnasium, which sit at the southeast corner of Talmage and Grant Avenue.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger