Salvation Army checking possible shelter locations

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said Friday he hopes the future plans for a Salvation Army headquarters and homeless shelter will be in better focus by the time the city council next meets, on April 5.

The mayor said city officials proposed “four or five” potential locations as alternatives to the stalled remodeling of the building at 100 N. Ninth St. Two of the alternate sites have buildings, including the shuttered Gold’s Gym, 1600 Clear Lake Ave., the mayor said. The others are lots where buildings could be constructed.

“Hopefully, they’ll let us know beforehand what their position is,” Langfelder said about the April 5 meeting, to which he invited Salvation Army officials. “That way, we can let the council know and give them ample time to formulate any questions they may have, because they’ll want to know that before they vote on extension of funding.”

More than $1 million in tax increment financing funds have been allocated to the building-rehabilitation project, which has been planned to become the Salvation Army’s downtown headquarters. Because of the delay and possible relocation, the TIF funds would have to be reallocated.

Langfelder said Salvation Army officials toured the Gold’s Gym building, which was involved in a bankruptcy proceeding and closed as a fitness center in October.

Major Steve Woodard of the Salvation Army said recently that he was caught off-guard when city officials asked his organization in February to consider moving the project from the North Ninth Street location where work was already underway. Langfelder says the Ninth Street site could conflict with construction of an intermodal hub near the 10th Street rail corridor, and it could also be used for parking for employees of Horace Mann Companies.

“We’re still looking at all the ... locations that have been offered to us,” Woodard said Friday.

And while Langfelder said the organization could continue with its Ninth Street location, Woodard said that word from city officials that the site would be needed within 10 years means it “doesn’t make sense for us” to continue the remodeling there.

Woodard said contractors at the Ninth Street site had said that project would take a year. While he has hoped a shelter could be ready by winter, he said, that can no longer happen at the Ninth Street site because of the delay. And he said building on an empty lot would also be time-consuming.

“If you start brand new, it’s going to take a lot longer,” Woodard said, including doing proper environmental work.

The former 36-bed Salvation Army facility on Sixth Street is closed, and the Ninth Street shelter was to be larger.

Page 2 of 2 - “My goal, once again, has always been to help serve this community,” Woodard said. “I’ve been fighting for that and will continue to do that.”

Neither the mayor nor Woodard disclosed other locations being considered.

Langfelder said he’d like to let the Salvation Army decide on its next move, and then get the word out as needed.

Advance knowledge of locations, Langfelder said, “could interfere with your process. It could escalate property prices. ... So you’re always better off, especially when you’re trying to negotiate something, or trying to work something out, that you’d rather take care of it first and then meet with the respective parties that are affected at that point in time.”

— Contact Bernard Schoenburg:, 788-1540,

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