Tell Us Who Should Receive This Year’s DSI Awards

Every year during our Annual Dinner & Awards, Downtown Springfield Inc. recognizes the business owners in the downtown area who are leading the way to a busy, friendly, bold, entertaining and coveted neighborhood.

The first step in the nomination process comes from YOU. Log your suggestions using our online survey tool>

We’ll announce the 2019 recipients at the Annual Dinner on January 16, 2020.

Review the recipients over the years here.

This 27th Annual Dinner will be held at the Wyndham City Centre and we’re taking downtown back to its Roaring 20’s. Tickets will be available soon for DSI’s largest fundraiser of the year. This is one celebration you won’t want to miss!

Monthly Indoor Farmers Markets Start Saturday

Shoppers can find the perfect Illinois wine for their holiday table as part of the indoor Markets.

Springfield shoppers can still find locally grown, high-quality products during the winter months at one of six indoor Holiday/Winter Markets hosted by Downtown Springfield Inc. and made possible by HSHS St. John’s Hospital and other generous sponsors.

These cold-weather markets were started by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, who turned them over to DSI in 2019 under our Old Capitol Farmers Market umbrella, as we work to grow the demand for a year-round Farmers Market in downtown Springfield.

The first indoor Market is this Saturday, November 23rd from 9 am – noon, and there is one indoor Market each month through April. This year’s location is Anvil & Forge on 619 E Washington Street, which offers approximately 6,000 square feet for each Market, a much larger space than we have been able to utilize downtown previously.

The November and December, or “Holiday” Markets, are perfect for prepping for your holiday gatherings. With 35 vendors, shoppers can check out five meat vendors, five bakeries and eleven produce farms and more. Farm-fresh products include pasture-raised meats, eggs, honey, cheese, greens, carrots, potatoes, turnips, radishes, apples, and winter squashes. Regionally-produced baked goods, Illinois wine, craft beer, coffee, and other unique local gifts are also available.

Find out if what you’re shopping for is available at the next indoor Market

Another happy customer!

While it’s often believed that farmers in central Illinois aren’t able to grow produce throughout the winter, advances in season-extension technology, such as hoop houses, have given farmers the ability to continue to grow products even in sub-freezing environments. Some crops, like spinach and kale, actually benefit from the colder temperatures, producing more sugars and a sweeter flavor.

THANKSGIVING TURKEY PRE-ORDERS

Customers looking to pick up a Thanksgiving turkey can pre-order from Garden Gate Farm. The turkeys are pasture-raised with non-GMO feed and range in size between 11 and 24 lbs. They are priced at $4.00/lb. and can be ordered via email or by phone 815-848-3518.

DOUBLE VALUE LINK PROGRAM

LINK cards are accepted, and the Double Value Program offered by the Old Capitol Farmers Market is still available thanks to grants from the State Treasurer’s Charitable Trust Program and LinkUp Illinois. LINK recipients will receive a $25 match to use on fresh fruits and vegetables. This means LINK recipients can swipe their card for $25 and receive an additional $25 to use on produce, doubling their purchasing power and making wholesome holiday meals available to families across Springfield.

PARKING

Parking is free on the streets of downtown Springfield during the indoor markets and the parking garage next to the Convention Center is one block away.

UPCOMING DATES

The indoor Market dates are: Saturday, December 21; Saturday, January 18; Saturday, February 15; Saturday, March 21; and Saturday, April 18.

MADE POSSIBLE BY GENEROUS SPONSORS

The Old Capitol Farmers Market is a free, 12 month activity that is organized by Downtown Springfield Inc., in partnership with premier sponsor HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Other sponsors include Development Services Group, Community Bankers Association of Illinois, State Treasurer’s Charitable Trust Grant Program, LinkUp Illinois, Junior League of Springfield, Bank of Springfield, The Baker Group, SpringfieldMoms.org, West Central Bank, Davis Financial Group, Central Baptist Church and the City of Springfield.

Halloween Comes Early Downtown

Especially on Saturday, October 26, this year’s Halloween activities in the downtown neighborhood provide…an overwhelming number of choices! Whether you have kids, still feel like a kid, or want to be away from kids, we have you covered. Read on and get your costumes finalized!

Halloween at the Market 9-12:30 pm

Wrap up the summer season with what Illinois Times readers call the “Best Reason to Visit Downtown” – the Old Capitol Farmers Market. DSI, SpringfieldMoms.org, Bank of Springfield and friends host this annual free event, which includes costume contests (with cash prizes) for kids, families and dogs. Free kids activities. See who’s selling this day at the Market.

Halloween at Kidzeum 10 am – 5 pm

Come play with fun, Halloween-themed activities going on all day PLUS $1 off the price of admission for anyone in costume.

Halloween Carnival at the Hoogland 11 am – 5 pm

This family-friendly carnival that supports the Young Artist Fund for scholarships has grown BIGGER this year with haunted houses for older kids and a special “Frozen” Haunted House for younger kids. Enjoy carnival booths with prizes and candy, performances of your favorite Halloween songs and check out everyone’s costumes.

Parents, relax and enjoy a fall beverage while the kids experience The Frog Jump, Toy Story Plinko, Pin the Heart on the Tin Man, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Trick or Treat at the Governor’s Mansion & City Safe Halloween Event on the Y Block 4 – 6 pm

These free events include generous amounts of candy, the ability to climb through the city’s large vehicles and more. Plus check out the Great Pumpkin Display while trick-or-treating at the Governor’s Mansion.

Nu-Voh Celebrates First Anniversary and Gives You 20% Off 4 – 10 pm

An adult way to celebrate the holiday weekend. Enjoy drink specials as well. Entree selections include a 16-ounce bone-in pork chop, gnocchi, 8-ounce filet mignon, 10-ounce grilled sirloin and pan-seared salmon or tuna.

Trick or Treat at the Old State Capitol 5-7 pm

More candy and fun activities before the parade starts!

The Incubator Celebrates First Anniversary with Halloween Bash 5 pm – 3 am

The Incubator is hosting its 2nd Annual Halloween party, featuring some of its favorite bands and DJs plus its new late night menu and drink specials.

Family Friendly Italian Dinner 6-9 pm

Grab some dinner and also stop by La Piazza Cucina Italiana on 6th Street to pick up coupons for kids 12 and under, to enjoy a slice of cheese pizza and soft drink for only $1.

Monsters Ball at 7 pm

Sangamo Club is hosting this special event for members and their guests.

The Parent Place 3rd Annual Halloween Parade at 7:30 pm

Check out the Beetlejuice-themed float by Downtown Springfield businesses and 41 other spooky, lighted entries.

Rocky Horror 10th Anniversary Show at 8 pm and 11:30 pm

So awesome, one of the performers had her eyelids still stuck together with glitter the next morning. ADHD Productions and HCFTA present the famous rock and roll musical about a “Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania” live on stage.

Check out other coming downtown activities on our calendar.

DSI Supports the Center for Health & Housing

The DSI Board of Directors, representing 150 business members in the downtown and adjacent neighborhoods, unanimously supports the proposed Center for Health and Housing.

It is true that Downtown Businesses are often the most adversely affected by the perceptions of visitors to a large homeless population. Yet what we believe is most compelling about the proposed Center is that it doesn’t just “move the problem around;” its approach will actually break the cycle of homelessness. This is a win for these individuals and a win for our community at large.

In addition, the Center makes sense fiscally, and will save our community thousands of dolalrs in emergency, police and other services. The selected site is located near other social agency resources and is within walking distance of the downtown hub where many individuals experiencing homelessness spend a considerable amount of time. The selected site has been vacant, there is no other tenant on the horizon, and it is perfectly suited for this purpose.

The Center for Health and Housing is a huge step forward for our community’s response to homelessness and we should embrace this opportunity to transform our approach.

To download our statement of support.

To follow the Center for Health and Housing on Facebook.

To educate yourself on the myths and stereotypes about people experiencing homelessness.

Music Series Fostered Community Pride and Spurred Positive Conversation about the Y Block

Not surprisingly, the number one reason that attendees to this summer’s Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series presented by PNC Bank would return to the south side of the Y Block was for a permanent bandshell or concert venue.

More than 7,700 people attended the ten-week, free music series held on the vacant lot adjacent to the Illinois Governor’s Mansion hosted by organizers Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, Downtown Springfield Inc and Springfield Area Arts Council. The two goals for the local organizers, which won them a $25,000 matching grant from the Levitt Foundation, were to bring Springfield’s diverse neighborhoods together in one central location, and to bring the public into the discussion about the future of the Y Block.

Local partners jumped on board, with PNC Bank leading the way as premier sponsor of the series. Other top sponsors included Isringhausen Imports, Illinois REALTORS, US Bank, LRS and the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. Top in-kind sponsors included all three radio groups coming together under the Radio Matters banner, Springfield Park District, Wyndham Springfield City Centre, Star Graphics, Republic Services, and the City of Springfield, who made physical improvements to the space so that people could bring blankets and lawn chairs to the concerts and provided waste and police services.

Nearly five hundred attendees took the time to fill out a survey about their desires for the future of the block and their downtown habits. The next three most popular responses for “reasons why you would return regularly” were, in order, food truck park, gardens, and/or a dog park.

Download the Levitt Music Series Attendee Count & Survey Analysis

The goal to provide an inclusive, safe place for all members of the community to come together was accomplished. This year’s attendees generally mirrored the demographics of the City of Springfield, according to the US Census. To personally invite African American families to the series, we partnered with UAct, a local non-profit, who made a total of 117 contacts with people in 59 east side entities. The Latino attendance was actually a higher percentage than Springfield’s Latino population, thanks to outreach by Salsa Ambassador Julio Barrenzuela. The Asian population was somewhat underrepresented.

Photo Credit: Brian Bowles

The family-friendly atmosphere was evident. Nearly 60 percent of surveyed attendees came with their family. Forty-seven percent came with friends. More than a quarter of surveyed attendees brought at least one child with them to the concerts. And tellingly, eight percent of those surveyed came by themselves, which indicates the venue felt safe and welcoming.

Regarding the future of the block, the City Council recently passed an ordinance which supports placing a downtown campus of UIS and SIU on or near the Y Block.

Springfield intends to submit a renewal application for a 2020 Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series, which is due September 20. Follow Levitt AMP Springfield to stay up to date.

Downtown Springfield Inc has a policy position on the future of the Y Block. Read it here: North Mansion Block Updated 2019 Policy

Got an Idea? We’ve Got Momentum On Main Street

DSI is a Main Street organization, which means it organizes it activities around four pillars of revitalization: Design, Promotions, Organization and Economic Vitality.

Today’s Downtown Springfield knows that growth will only happen by undertaking economic development activities that fill the smaller vacant properties and build new foot traffic, activities that have also attracted a new generation of volunteers to work alongside DSI staff to #GSD.  

Momentum on Main Street is an initiative that grew out of DSI’s Economic Vitality committee earlier this year to help educate and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors and property developers.

“We really aimed to highlight and build off the positives that are already happening downtown,” said David Lee, a medical salesperson and downtown revitalization advocate who chairs the Momentum committee. “We’ve quickly gotten a lot of interest; it obviously was a message people could get behind. We’re hoping the workshops, conversations, and connections that are happening will give people the tools, and confidence, to do their project or business that they’ve been dreaming about.”

The Momentum on Main Street launch event was held March 21 at Arlington’s. More than 100 people attended to hear from current business owners about their experiences setting up shop in the downtown district and to network. All of the attendees to this free event, sponsored by the City of Springfield and US Bank, were invited to apply for scholarships either to take their business concept to the next level, or to attend an Incremental Development Alliance workshop to learn how to take on a property redevelopment without using subsidies.

CO.STARTERS SCHOLARSHIPS

Attendees at the kick-off event had the opportunity to apply for a Co.Starters scholarship, sponsored by US Bank. Co.Starters is a national nine-week program that began in Chattanooga, TN to help communities “build vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems by equipping them with the best tools and resources needed.” Co.Starters in Springfield is hosted by Innovate Springfield, UIS’ business incubator located in the heart of downtown.

Then in June, Innovate Springfield hosted their first Co.Starters Pitch Event to hear from the ten participants in the first cohort. Five of the Co.Starters cohort members received the US Bank scholarships as part of the Momentum on Main Street program:

  • Sarah Stahly – Sweet Scoops
  • Patrick Russell – Curtain & Leaf
  • Dayton Burntett – Trans4orm
  • Liz Hiller – Thirsty’s Taproom
  • Thomas Phinney –  Cafe on the Rocks

Three of the Momentum “scholars” are looking to create new brick-and-mortar experiences. Sarah Stahly began her business Sweet Scoops by looking to put a unique spin on ice cream. Her ice cream choices include non-dairy and vegan. She uses substitutes like coconut milk and almond milk to make delicious flavor combinations such as Strawberry Banana & Ruby Basil or Chocolate Peanut Butter Fried Banana.

Liz Hiller had the idea for Thirsty’s Taproom, a crossroads for everything craft beer, after living in places like Chicago and North Carolina and experiencing their craft beer scene. Lately, Central Illinois has caught the craft beer bug and the movement has centered in downtown with spots like Obed & Isaac’s, Buzz Bomb Brewing Co., and Anvil & Forge Brewing. Thirsty’s Taproom would serve as a spot for patrons to try all of their favorite craft beers in one location. Thirsty’s Taproom would be a family friendly atmosphere with an emphasis on enjoying great beer and community.

Thomas Phinney, an avid rock climbing expert, and his wife Ruth plan to open an indoor “bouldering cafe” in downtown. On The Rocks Bouldering would help increase Springfield’s knowledge of bouldering, which is rock climbing without the assistance of a harness. Ultimately the business would lead regular bouldering tours in the western U.S. 

DSI’s Momentum on Main Street will be providing five more scholarships for the next Co.Starters cohort in September. If you have a great new business idea and are ready to do the work to make it a reality, fill out the application now.

FREE FOLLOW UP SESSIONS

Since the launch event, DSI has held one-hour informational sessions on a variety of related subjects, with the goal of hosting six related topics during 2019. The first covered how to start your business by selling at the Farmers Market. The second was hosted at the Lincoln Public Library and featured a panel of city staff demystifying the process of permits and licensing. 

The third Momentum on Main Street event was an interactive walking tour led by architect and owner of Square Root Architecture + Design, Jeff Sommers, to help participants discern what is needed when one buys a downtown building. He was joined by a banker and two realtors. Mark Nelson and Ed Mahoney are with Re/Max professionals. Ed has worked as a realtor in Springfield for over 30 years and was on the founding board for DSI. 

The next Momentum free session is on July 30th at Anvil and Forge Brewing. The session will be led by Lauren Silkowski of US Bank and Lashonda Fitch of Justine Petersen and will provide attendees with ideas for how to achieve financing for a business start-up. More details to follow.

 

Shop Hop with Mary Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln (as portrayed by Pam Brown) takes you on a shopping tour of downtown Springfield.

Mary Lincoln, Mrs. Fashionista of her time, is leading a weekly Saturday Shop Hop tour right in her home neighborhood of Downtown Springfield. 

Mary Lincoln’s Shop Hop is a free program that is part of Visit Springfield’s History Comes Alive. Participants can get the one-of-a-kind experience to shop with a First Lady meet the owners of downtown boutiques, and discover the work of Springfield’s talented craftspeople and artists. 

The shopping tours take place every Saturday during History Comes Alive (through August 10). Just meet at 11 am at the Springfield Visitors Center, located at the Lincoln-Herdon Law office at 6th and Adams Streets. Shop Hop tours run 45 minutes and consist of three downtown shops. 

Mary Lincoln is the inspiration for the Shop Hop because of her knack for fashion and love of shopping during her time in Springfield and DC. She was known to own beautiful gowns, usually only purchased when Abraham Lincoln was out of town. During the mid-1850’s in Springfield, it would not have been uncommon to see Mary Lincoln at locations like John William’s general store or in the shop of dressmaker Mrs. Labarthe. She was known to own a dress that cost more than two month’s pay for a typical Springfield family of the time.

Credit: Getty Images

In addition to her beautiful dresses, the bonnets that Mary Lincoln would wear also verified her fashionista status. Mary could have been seen wear decorative bonnets with long sashes that were typically made by the French. 

Even when the Lincolns moved to Washington, D.C., Mary kept up her lavish fashion life. She was known to wear brilliant outfits that resembled the likes of European women of the time. She was often referred to as “The Illinois Reine” because she resembled royalty.

Mary Lincoln’s Shop Hop is a wonderful way to learn a little more about our 16th President’s First Lady and get a little shopping in at the same time. Where else but downtown could you experience this historic mashup? 

Thank you to our partners at Visit Springfield, Mary Lincoln’s Shop Hop possible!

 

A Downtown Resource: How the Davis Family Has Helped Shape Our Neighborhood

On the corner of Fourth and Adams sits Resource One, office design specialists and a supplier of quality furniture. Resource One has operated out of their location at 321 E Adams Street since 1992. You could say that their location and industry gave them literal “front row seats” to how the downtown area has developed over the last three decades; the truth is that both generations of the family-run business have also spent countless hours helping to mold downtown’s future.  

As they have grown their business, Cindy Davis and two of her children Lauren and Chris have also volunteered alongside other business owners and advocates to make the neighborhood a more active and interesting place.

Cindy Davis is the co-founder and CEO of Resource One. She served as a DSI board member and Board President in 2003-2004. She can be credited with helping to bring two of DSI’s most interesting and longstanding tours to fruition. The story goes that Cindy attended a Main Street conference in Elgin, where the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s Anthony Rubano — a Springfieldian — led participants on a tour of Elgin’s downtown. Of course, DSI needed to replicate the experience in our own historic downtown and started with one walking tour a year. Now, thanks to its popularity, each summer from May to October, on the first Wednesday of the month, Anthony leads DSI’s free Architectural Walking Tour.

Cindy also worked as a board member with DSI’s first full-time executive director, Valicia Crisafulli, to develop the Upper Story Tour. A few weeks ago, DSI hosted its 19th tour of upper story commercial and residential spaces that are not always open to the general public. The event also serves as a fundraiser for DSI’s work to match property owners with potential tenants and to help manage the shift in ownership which happens every generation.

Cindy’s son, Chris Davis, is in sales and Business Development at Resource One. Following in his mother’s footsteps in both business and volunteer time, Chris started getting involved when DSI privately fundraised for and implemented a creative placemaking project on the Old State Capitol Plaza. Thanks to private donations, DSI worked with the City to hang cafe lighting, provide colorful tables and chairs, and bags games and a ping-pong table. DSI shopped local as they always try to do and Chris helped determine the appropriate design and colors for the tables and chairs. After several meetings to discuss the activation project, Chris came away as an advocate for trying new concepts and not being afraid of change.

Chris then joined the Economic Vitality committee; one of their subcommittees created the Momentum on Main Street program, which is geared to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors and property developers. Chris and the other committee members brought corporate, educational and city interests together to demystify the process to invest in downtown. The next free Momentum session is July 30th to provide information about financing options. 

While the Davis family certainly is proud to have made Resource One a family business, they have also helped to welcome others in the downtown neighborhood as family. When describing what is most enjoyable about their downtown location, Chris says, “It’s the downtown family. We take pride in each other’s businesses and we take ownership in each other’s businesses. We share problems, challenges and victories. And I feel like we are starting to enjoy more and more victories.”

 

Plants Native to Illinois Help Beautify Downtown

(not in order pictured) Volunteers Grace Norris, Susan Helm, Patty Morton, Erin Svendsen, Michael Higgins and Kathy Wright

A group of volunteers spent a recent Wednesday morning helping to beautify downtown with plants native to Illinois.

The idea bubbled up from members of DSI’s Design Committee, who worked with master gardener Susan Helm to develop a plan and find grant funding to conduct a pilot program in downtown’s planters.

A key member of the group is Michael Higgins, who recently won a Sustainable Springfield award for the work he’s done to utilize his Maldaner’s Restaurant rooftop to achieve sustainable goals, including installing solar panels, a beehive and a native plant container to support native pollinators. Energy use at the restaurant has been reduced by 20% over the past five years. Take-out containers are provided in compostable containers and most recently plastic straws were replaced with paper straws, the first downtown business to make the switch.

For the downtown planters project, Higgins, Helm and Erin Svendsen of SAA collaborated with the Illinois Native Plant Society, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the City of Springfield to develop their plan. They successfully won a grant from the Springfield Civic Garden Club, which donated proceeds its Annual Plant Sale to garden-related projects for a charitable organization.

The newly-planted planters will beautify the downtown area but also serve two other important functions: saving the City of Springfield money by utilizing perennials and attracting pollinators, which are an important part of the ecosystem and have been diminishing. The different species of plants used range from flowers like Coneflower and Poppy Mallow to plants like White Sage and Prairie Dropseed. Along with these plants native to Illinois, the downtown planters project added herbs for texture and pollinator value.

Each pot is essentially an entire pollinator garden. You can find them on both sides of 6th Street from Monroe to Adams Street. They are also on Adams Street between 6th and 7th Streets. Depending on the success of this first pilot project, look for an expansion to other planters in the downtown area in the coming years.

An Art Deco Gem

In honor of our first Architectural Walking Tour of the season, which takes place on Wednesday, May 1, Cinda Ackerman Klickna contributed this blog post about the 88-year-old building which houses the organization that she led for six years as President.

The Illinois Education Association building at 100 E. Edwards is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in downtown Springfield. Built in 1931 by Rockford architects Horn and Sandburg, it houses the offices of the largest union in Illinois. The IEA, with a current membership of 133,000, includes teachers and support staff, Pre-K through higher ed, plus retired members and students studying to become teachers.

IEA has a long history, starting as the Illinois State Teachers’ Institute in 1853. A constitution was written with the preamble explaining why the association was needed: “…believing that the organization of a State Teachers’ Institute is not only essential to raise the standard of teaching but conducive to the promotion of the of the greatest diffusion of knowledge throughout our
State.”

Membership grew over the years after many conventions with as many as 5000 teachers attending and with support of the legislature. In 1857, by an act of the Illinois Legislature, the name was changed to the Illinois State Teachers’ Association. The Association had by then helped to establish the Superintendent of Public Instruction as a regular full-time elected office (today the position is appointed by the Governor). In 1857, the Association helped establish Illinois State Normal University. It wasn’t until 1936 that the name became what it is today, the Illinois Education Association, because membership grew to include more than teachers.

By the 1920s, a small office served the membership; in 1925, the delegates to the annual meeting called the Representative approved money for the purchase of land and construction of a building in Springfield. A location with close proximity to the State Capitol was important so that legislative work could be continued.

Two lots on Edwards Street were purchased for $15,000. A two-story building was completed in 1931, named the William Bishop Owen Building in honor of the association’s former president who had worked to establish a permanent headquarters. The building cost $45,300.

The architects, Horn and Sandburg, designed a box-shaped structure using Indiana limestone. The facade has never changed. Four fluted carved columns rise two stories and are capped with a sunrise and geometric design. The sunrise and geometric pattern is repeated above the entrance.

Expansion occurred in 1953; the Centennial Addition was so named in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Association. The two-story addition on the back end, costing $134,000, added much needed space for offices and meetings. And in 1960, another addition, creating a “T,” was added to the back.  The ell wing, extending to the east, was added in the 1980’s.

Although the interior has been modernized with new windows, lighting, and air systems throughout the years, some parts of the original building can still be seen. Stairwells with wood railings, woodwork around glass panels, heavy doors, old radiators and grill vents add charm to the building.

IEA, a non-profit member of Downtown Springfield Inc., continues its original mission: to improve the quality of teaching by raising issues, working on legislation that helps students and raising the awareness of the needs of students and educators for successful public schools in every community.

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