Aldermen didn’t take action Tuesday on a proposal to extend a redevelopment agreement with the Salvation Army, which provides for roughly $1.1 million in tax increment financing, as the organization looks to move from North Ninth Street to the shuttered Gold’s Gym at 1600 E. Clear Lake Ave.
Questions remain about how exactly the TIF dollars may be used if the project moves to Clear Lake, which is outside of the downtown TIF district.
Some aldermen and members of the public who spoke to the Springfield City Council knocked Mayor Jim Langfelder’s administration for a lack of communication on the relocation issue.
While it was known that city officials had approached the Salvation Army about moving its proposed Springfield headquarters away from a building that sits right next to the 10th Street railroad tracks, the surprise announcement came Friday that Gold’s Gym was the chosen property.
Jim Moll of Hanson Professional Services made a presentation to the council Tuesday on the rail-consolidation project and how it affected the matter.
With the increase in rail traffic as consolidation moves forward, the 100 N. Ninth St. property will lose access onto Jefferson Street, as well as to the east side of the building, which is the side the tracks are located on. That was explained to the Salvation Army earlier on in the process, when different people were leading both the organization and the city, but there were limited options at that point, Moll said.
Salvation Army representatives looked at 45 different sites for its downtown headquarters before settling on North Ninth several years ago. An estimated $500,000 worth of work had already started there.
The theme among the few residents who spoke at Tuesday’s council meeting was that they support the Salvation Army’s mission, but they don’t want its local operation, particularly the homeless-shelter component, in their backyards.
"It doesn't matter where Salvation Army goes, there's objection," Langfelder acknowledged.
Salvation Army Maj. Steve Woodard said Tuesday on every project he’s worked on, someone has said they didn’t want the organization in their backyard. But he emphasized that he thinks too many people focus on the homeless shelter without realizing “who all comes to the Salvation Army.”
The organization wants to develop a community center at the former Gold’s Gym, and said it plans to hold open houses on Saturday and next Wednesday to have some discussions about the plans with the community.
When Ward 2 Ald. Herman Senor asked why the Salvation Army wasn’t approaching neighbors about the relocation before the announcement was made, Woodard pointed out the Salvation Army didn’t ask to move; it was approached by the city about moving.
Page 2 of 2 - Woodard said he would have liked to further those communications with neighbors.
Langfelder said anytime the city is involved in negotiations on a property, the price escalates, which is why city and Salvation Army leaders kept it under wraps until Friday.