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Historic building renovations are part of downtown housing boom

Plans are underway to convert the Woodruff and Landmark buildings into apartments.

June 14, 2013|by Emily Wood, KY3 News | ewood@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The housing business is booming in downtown Springfield.  Investors are snapping up long-neglected buildings downtown and pouring millions of dollars in to restore them. 

"Restoring something that has the past that this does is inspiring," said Tim Roth, one of the developers with Sperry Van Ness Rankin, which is restoring the historic Woodruff Building.

First opened in 1911, the Woodruff was once stood as a strong symbol of economic progress in the Queen City.  However, years of neglect have left it looking lackluster at best.

"This is where you see the vision is when you come up to this floor," Roth said while showing the view from the 11th floor of the Woodruff.

"The vibrancy that it can bring back to downtown was the inspiration for it," he said.

Roth said plans include 96 high-end, finished apartments, with a concierge, coffee shop, restaurant, theater, and pool on the first floor.  The whole building will be restored to a mid-century modern aesthetic.

Meanwhile work is already underway across the street from the Woodruff at the Landmark Building.

"The project is a 68-unit affordable housing project funded through the Missouri Housing Development Commission," said Bruce Adib-Yazdi with the Vecino Group.

The mid-rise first started out as the Frisco Railroad Office, and the name will return when it opens for tenants in 2014.

Developers said the high occupancy rates downtown convinced them to take the risk on multi-million-dollar projects.

"We had 97-percent occupancy rate in our loft housing, which the occupancy rate has grown every year," said Rusty Worley, executive director of Urban Districts Alliance.

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Worley points out the area grew from 50 renovated apartments to more than 500 in the last 10 years.  He said both young professionals and empty nesters continue to flock downtown for the urban feel.

"I feel the need for downtown to have a nice diverse mix of people living down here, and I think the more of that we get, the more well see vibrancy of downtown grow as well," Roth said.

Construction on the Woodruff likely will begin in the fall and should take 12 to 14 months to complete, while the Landmark building should be finished by the end of the year.

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