UIS Downtown Nightlife Shuttle Starts

Tonight a new shuttle launches between the University of Illinois Springfield campus and downtown Springfield. It was an initiative of the UIS Student Government Association, which is partially funding the program. The program is also receiving financial support from downtown establishments The Remedy, The Alamo and The Gin Mill, with some financial and staff assistance from DSI.

“The Student Government Association at the University of Illinois-Springfield is dedicated to bringing students closer to the greater Springfield community. We have a large population of students on our campus who are unable to enjoy Downtown Springfield because they lack transportation. This latest initiative allows our students to not only get a taste of downtown Springfield but also serves as a way the University can form partnerships with local downtown businesses,” said Austin M. Mehmet, President of the UIS Student Government Association.

DSI has contracted with Gracious Cab to run four 16-person shuttles every Friday and Saturday night throughout the spring semester (except March 17-18, which is spring break).

The shuttle will pick up students for free with a valid ID from TRAC on the UIS campus and drop them off downtown. Pick up times at TRAC are 10 pm, 11 pm, midnight and 1 am.

The downtown drop-off and pick-up location is:

Remedy Nightclub at 5th and Adams: January 28 through February 26

The Alamo at 115 N 5th St: March 3 – April 1 (excluding March 17-18)

The Gin Mill at 235 S 5th St: April 7 – May 6

The last shuttle leaving downtown for campus is at 2 am.

Downtown Business Priorities Going into 2017

At the end of 2016, DSI conducted a needs assessment of our downtown district business owners so that we could set priorities as an organization for the coming year. A majority indicated that they were optimistic heading into the new year. Respondents indicated their 2017 priorities as filling vacancies, permanent directional signage, launching a new district brand and educational campaign, a parking app, adding family-friendly amenities to the Old State Capitol Plaza and determining a collective vision for the next 10-15 years.

Who Responded to the Survey












(“Other” consisted of: non-profits, hotels, property managers, etc.)

Morale Going into 2017











What were your best months in 2016?

  1. December
  2. May
  3. April
  4. July

What were your worst months in 2016?

  1. January
  2. December
  3. November
  4. February

Was the year “normal” as far as sales?

The majority of businesses were split between lower sales than normal and maintaining sales levels compared to 2015, with a few businesses that expanded their footprint or amended their offerings seeing a gain.

What DSI activities in 2016 helped your bottom line?

  1. Old Capitol Holiday Walks
  2. Publicizing businesses in all communication channels
  3. Farmers Market
  4. Work to decrease panhandling annoyances

2017 Priorities for DSI























What are some other ideas to help downtown grow?

Community Music School and Performance Venue; changing all parking meters to 2 hour meters; changing parallel parking back to diagonal; guaranteed water mains sized to supply required sprinkler systems; slow down the traffic; local talent night on the Plaza; vacant Peases building get national retailer like Crate and Barrel or IKEA; movie theater; additional shopping (women’s trendy clothing, shoes and kids); healthy eating restaurant; dog park; new park/green space with playground and bandshell close to downtown (Y-Block); pull more workers from medical district by promoting labs and doctors to set up in downtown spaces; launch a moving billboard on a downtown shuttle; incentives for start-up businesses; down payment assistance and/or grants to encourage purchase of downtown condo space.


City of Springfield Budget Discussions for FY18

The FY 2018 budget workshops will take place in the City Council Chambers located on the 3rd floor of the Municipal Center West, 300 S. Seventh Street. The budget workshops will be broadcast live on the city’s cable station, Channel 18.  Residents will be able to view the complete budget information beginning Monday, January 9 on the city’s website.

 Date: Time: Topic:
Tuesday, January 10


After Committee of the Whole Office of Budget & Management overview; Human Resources; Public Works
Tuesday, January 17 After City Council Treasurer; City Clerk; City Council; Convention & Visitors Bureau; Office of Planning and Economic Development; Library
Thursday, January 19 5:30 p.m. CWLP


Monday, January 23 5:30p.m. Police Department and Fire Department


Tuesday, January 24


After Committee of the Whole Office of Budget & Management; and Mayor’s Office


Tuesday, February 14 During Committee of the Whole meeting starting at5:30p.m. Public Hearing


Pop Up Development during Holiday Walks

A 40 percent-plus commercial vacancy rate doesn’t exactly make for holiday cheer. The official city of Springfield measure of downtown vacancies was among the inspirations for a “pop up business” venture during the annual Holiday Walks in the historic commercial district. Volunteers also decorated more than 60 storefronts, including those that are vacant, for the Wednesday and Saturday walks. Read more of the State Journal Register’s article by Tim Landis>

Coloring T-Shirt Parties at What the Shirt

I’ve coached my son’s First Lego League team for four years, and each year we’ve tried to get savvier about designing our team T-shirts: it shouldn’t take a lot of time away from programming the robotics missions and the project development, but it should be a fun, team-building exercise.

This fall, the seven kids on our team, Carpocalypse, designed, colored and had their own personalized T-shirts in hand in a matter of hours — all while eating snacks, laughing, talking about memes and other topics of interest to middle schoolers.  That’s because What the Shirt? on the Old Capitol Plaza has a new line in their business of “witticisms you can wear” — Coloring to a Tee Parties. It’s like ripping out a page of a coloring book, coloring it, and then having your own piece of wearable art at the end.

Connor is the proprietor of What the Shirt? on the Old State Capitol Plaza.

It’s a great party idea for birthdays, cabin fever escapes over the coming winter, adult get-togethers with BYOB, and yes, Lego League teams. Here’s how it worked for us: we wanted our T-shirts to have the same design, so the kids looked through all of the selections to pick a fish-themed shirt. Every person then colored in their fish the way they wanted, using the markers provided.

Connor Alexander, the proprietor at What the Shirt?, designed the team name on his trusty computer — and used the same lettering to print out personalized names for the back of the shirts, so that the kids could color those in as well. It took less than 15 minutes for each T-shirt to be imprinted with the design, right before our eyes.

Want to give it a try for the holiday season? On Wednesdays of the Holiday Walks, What the Shirt is giving $10 gift certificates off a Coloring Party with each purchase. On Saturdays, you can participate in a pop-up Coloring Party.

~ Lisa Clemmons Stott

Iles Middle School’s Carpocalypse FLL Team

Springfield Gears Up for Downtown Holiday Walks

Downtown Springfield, Inc. the City of Springfield and Illini Bank have announced the 2016 Downtown Holiday Walks.  This years theme is “Through the Years.”  The kick off is Saturday the 26th, Small Business Saturday.

Activities start at noon and run into the night.  More than 60 storefronts will be decorated.  There will be Horse Drawn Carriage Rides.  Mr and Mrs. Claus will be there to meet and greet children and adults alike, in addition, there will a mailbox for Santa.

Then at 7:30 PM the Jaycee’s  Annual Christmas Parade steps off.  For more information and dates and times of other 2016 Holiday Walks in Downtown Springfield click here. Thanks to WAND for their coverage of the 2016 Holiday Walks!

Main Street-Style Shopping Preferred by Springfield Residents

Springfield has enough auto dealerships, banks and liquor stores, but could use more artisan and specialty food shops and bookstores, according to residents who responded to a recent survey.

More than 880 residents filled out a Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission questionnaire about the city’s economic development, transportation, land use and public amenities.

The results will inform a plan for how the city develops and uses land over the next 20 years. The comprehensive plan, which was last completed in 2000, helps set zoning codes to determine where residential, commercial or other development should be. Read the entire story by Mary Hansen in the State-Journal Register>

Conns Earn Statewide Preservation Honor

Karen and Court Conn

Each year, Landmarks Illinois honors nine outstanding examples of excellence in Illinois historic preservation with the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards, which aim to inspire others to take action to preserve, protect and promote historic resources. This Saturday at a gala in Chicago, DSI’s Immediate Past President Karen Conn and her partner in life & preservation, Court Conn, will receive the prestigious Leadership Award, recognizing their two decades of major preservation projects and revitalization successes in downtown Springfield through Conn’s Hospitality Group (CHG).

innat835Since 1995, the Conns have rehabilitated four historic buildings in the Downtown District, starting with the Inn at 835 on Second Street. The 1909 apartment building listed on the National Register of Historic Places was converted into a bed and breakfast and then expanded into a conference center.

In 2007, Court and Karen purchased property that was at one time owned by Court’s great-great grandparents, Obed Lewis and Cordelia Iles, at Seventh and Jackson.  The Lewis-Iles children were contemporaries of Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln’s sons.

Ultimately, the couple made the difficult decision to raze the muddled family home in an effort to preserve another Lincoln-era structure. The Isaac Lindsey house, also known as the Lindsey-Maisenbacher Home, was famously moved down Seventh Street, six blocks to its present location at Seventh and Jackson. The Conns originally planned to turn this building into Springfield’s first microbrewery, but it became apparent the building was not suited.

Obed and Isaac's

So the Conns renovated the once-prominent 1860s mansion of the Booth-Grundendike family at Sixth and Jackson Street (on the same block) and opened it as Obed and Isaac’s Microbrewery & Eatery in February 2012, with Court’s sons Adam and Casey. Obed Lewis’ carriage house became the brewery and one of downtown’s most popular outdoor patios with bocce ball court was born. (A few years ago, someone from Peoria enjoyed their time at Obed and Isaac’s so much that they approached the Conns about opening a second location, which the family just did in an historic church in Peoria.)

A family posting on TripAdvisor enjoyed Wm. Van's Coffee.
A family posting on TripAdvisor enjoyed Wm. Van’s Coffee.

Abraham Lincoln himself reportedly lent Lindsey $650 to build the home which the Conns had moved and saved. Lindsey’s home was too small for a brewery but just right for a coffee house and café. Wm. Van’s Coffee, celebrating its third anniversary this winter, offers specially roasted coffee and specialty coffee drinks, fresh baked pastries, and grab-and-go meals and has become a favorite hangout for entrepreneurs and their laptops.

Fruits and vegetables raised on the Conn family farm in Virginia, Illinois provide fresh, natural, local produce for all three venues.

The most recent revitalization occurred in a vacant 1960s-era commercial building at 7th and Monroe. The Conns acquired Widow at Windsor Antiques, and relaunched it as The Merchant House. The retail store features European antiques and contemporary furnishings.

Congratulations Court and Karen, and thank you for your commitment to downtown revitalization and providing modern uses for Springfield’s unique, precious historic structures! Thank you also for many years of supporting the downtown district with your investments, your time, your counsel and your leadership.