News

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

 

2016 Best of Downtown Award Nominees

Alex Block (center) was named DSI’s Volunteer of the Year for 2015.

The Annual Dinner Committee is excited to announce this year’s nominees for downtown’s annual awards featuring the people and places that raise the bar in downtown. This year’s process included soliciting nominations from the public, so thank you!

The recipients, including DSI Volunteer of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award–and the first-ever Window Decorating Contest winner–will be announced at DSI’s Annual Gala “Downtown Springfield’s Blooming” on Wed., January 18.

Reserve your tickets today>

 

 

Best Facade/ Signage

Lincoln Herndon Exterior Renovation

Floyd’s Thirst Parlor

Urban Sassafras

Public/ Private Partnership

Frank Lloyd Wright Mural

Springfield Art Association & Ace Sign Co. Art Bus Benches

UIS & Villas of Downtown

Best Event

SOHO Music Festival

Downhome Festival

Blues and BBQ

Best Retail Business

The Card*ologist

Urban Sassafras

Wild Rose

Best Restaurant

JoJo’s Street Cuisine

Obed and Issac’s Brewery

Stop and Roll Sushi

Best Nightlife

Floyds Thirst Parlor

Obed’s Beer Garden

The Hoogland Center

Creative Promotion

Arlington’s Murder Mystery Dinner

Floyd’s Thirst Parlor “Make Cocktails Great Again”

Urban Sassafras Insta-Sales & Thanksgiving Giveaway Event

Downtown Advocate

Alicia Bibb

Brian Wojcicki

Rep. Tim Butler

Innovative Business Concept

Stop and Roll Sushi’s Hours and Offerings

Business Incubator Innovate Springfield

Milk & Honey Fresh Market for Growing Veggies & Reusable Bags

Best Not for Profit Initiative—

Springfield Black Chamber’s Pop-Up Happy Hour

100+ Who Care Fundraising Event at the Gin Mill

Illinois Stewardship Alliance Farm to Table Series

 

 

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!

Investing in downtown: City mulls how to proceed under TIF extension

Now that the tax increment financing district for downtown has been extended, Springfield’s Office of Planning and Economic Development is examining priorities for how the money should be spent.

The city is talking with Downtown Springfield Inc. and other businesses and developers to decide how to invest the $30 million in TIF money that it estimates will be available over the next 12 years.

“It seems like the growth areas are retail, because you want to be able to walk from door to door to door and have someone in each one of those for the feel of it,”

“There’s so many old buildings, you can’t just create that out of thin air. There’s a scene and experience you can create with that. It’s there, it’s just not fully utilized.”

“But I think we as a city need to identify types of target businesses we want and then package some incentives behind it and say here’s what we can bring forward to help facilitate the missing elements of that.”

“We need to create a plan and vision of what downtown might look like, as opposed to what we want today and that might change tomorrow. We need to solidify a long-term plan.”

Read the entire story by Mary Hansen in the State-Journal Register 

 

 

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

court-and-karen-3
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.

 

Have You Met The Card*ologist?

Not too many people can say they started a business at 16 and continued on to many other business ventures before the age of 25. Doug Mayol, The Cardologist store owner14354919_982220981900118_805150980486251887_n is one of those few.

The Cardologist is a quaint storefront on the 600 block of East Adams Street in downtown Springfield. You can’t miss it, the building is bright green and turquoise with a giant “open” flag that guides you towards the front entrance.

Inside is an eclectic assortment of cards from “Happy Birthday” to “Get Well Soon.”  The store is also wall-to-wall with a wide variety of socks. They range anywhere from this year’s presidential nominees, to the Route 66 Mother Road theme, which are covered with images of vintage cars.

I arrived at The Cardologist store during my lunch hour and was greeted by Doug. He was tall, blonde and handsome. He wore a light pink button up shirt tucked into a pair of washed out straight leg Levi’s, trendy leather sneakers and a preppy pair of tortoiseshell glasses t
hat sat on the bridge of his nose- you’d never guess he was over sixty, the guy had style!

Doug was already prepared for our interview with a large cup of coffee in his hand. He walked me to the back of the store which has an arrangement of chairs surrounding a stage, and some small tables and chairs just like the ones you would see in a quaint little coffee shop.

Doug flipped through an old maroon album with memories pasted from page to page. He still looked just as good as the boy in the pictures.

The Early Years

Doug grew up on Lowell Avenue in Hawthorne Hill in Springfield, Illinois where everyone was family.

“Everybody knew everybody and everyone’s mom was your mom, too. They could discipline you and they could put you to work,” he laughed. He continued flipping through his album.

“This was my first rent receipt, for $50” he said. It didn’t seem like $50 was a realistic number at all considering rent these days!
“You know, my very first business was dancing door to door,” he started. As a preteen, Doug would go door to door with his record player and dance for his neighbors. “Once the record was up I’d collect my nickel and go on to the next door.”

He even had a cane that looked like a candy cane and he wore a Styrofoam hat. This was all part of the act.

“I also had Kool Aid stands and my very own carnival … I was always into silly little businesses,” he continued. Doug always had a passion for starting a business.

He’d see vacant buildings and think about what a great store each building would make.  He was sixteen when he eventually opened his very first store. He called it “By Hand.”

Doug saved up all of his allowance, which was $5 a week. Once he’d earned enough to make the first rent payment, he was officially a business owner.

Doug’s parents were always gung- ho on him starting his own businimg_1930ess, especially his mother. “My mother always wanted to be a dress designer, and have a dress shop. But her mother wanted her to be a teacher and she never got to follow her dreams, so she got to live her dream through my store,” he said.

“By Hand” was a very small building without any plumbing, but it was one of Doug’s most exciting times in his life. He had done this all on his own. He sold art and craftwork, both his own and by other area artists.

The Dream Store

Doug’s business ventures didn’t end there. He changed the name of his store to “Goods by Hand,” and reopened downtown. He owned a plant store called “Tumbleweed” and at last opened his dream store called “Present Company Gift Emporium.” Doug later opened a Present Company store at the Tantara Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks when he was just twenty-two.

His family used to vacation at the Lake of the Ozarks all the time and he fell in love with it. “I just thought it was the coolest place … it was just beautiful there,” he said. It was a no brainer that he would eventually open a store there.

Doug realized that opening a store at a fancy resort and having to follow resort policies such as daunting store hours, was taking all of the fun out of it. “When you’re on vacation it seems like a fun place to live but in reality what happens, even as much as I enjoyed my time there, everyone is having fun but you are working 16 hour days,” he said.

In between Doug’s successful business ventures, he opened a store called Hippopotamus where he sold handmade jewelry, and he also ran a couple of shopping centers. Doug was certainly living out his dream.

He was a renaissance man with many different talents. Doug was a silversmith and made his own jewelry and candles. He also drew ads for his stores as well as others.

You would expect someone that was as busy as Doug to get burned out quickly. He had opened so many news stores and had some bit of success with each one of them that you’d wonder why he wouldn’t retire early.

Owning a business was not easy, especially when there wasn’t a lot of money and you were the sole owner of the store.

“You’re the janitor, you’re the accountant, you’re the display person, you’re the buyer, you’re the manager. There are a lot of different hats to wear,” he said.

Doug was never t37adde70-9993-4487-b991-6e317d6f93fa-large16x9_vcardologistshopmoveshe type of person who started businesses purely for profit. He started businesses because it was fun for him, it made him happy. He didn’t need all the extra bells and whistles.

“I guess my story would be more interesting if I was some major retail giant, if I was the starter of Amazon. I’m just not motivated that way. Like I said, it’s always been about having fun, making money has never been the primary goal for me,” he said.

Throughout Doug’s journey as a business owner he went through the highs and lows that came with owning any business. Sometimes rent was expensive, sometimes buildings were sold and he had to venture elsewhere, and sometimes he was just a little hungrier for something more.

The Evolution of The Card*ologist

The latest business venture Doug started is called The Cardologist. Like most of his stores, it has the same sort of theme, with different varieties of stationery, gifts, candles and jewelry. The Cardologist also focuses on different greeting cards and stationery in particular. He later added socks and other gifts to his store.

Doug moved The Cardologist three times before finally settling in at his current location on East Adams Street in downtown Springfield. His first location was short lived and his second was a smaller building with which he had a love hate relationship. “I just felt trapped, and I was kicking the same rock around,” he said.

Doug was forced to move out of the second location because the owner of the building wanted someone to buy the space as opposed to renting it. Doug was not prepared to buy a space that he didn’t love.

The Cardologist seemed as though it was at the end of its road because Doug had great difficulty in finding a new location. He
wasn’t entirely committed to staying downtown. He had moved so many times and was ready to settle down. “I don’t think that I can move again, the last move really took a lot out of me,” he said.

Now that he has owned The Cardologist for a grand total of 28 years he was ready for something new. Doug’s new store has plenty of room for all of his merchandise. Not only is it a store but it doubles as an event space.

img_5610Doug plans on using the extra space in the back of his store for live music and e
vents involving customers and friends alike. The possibilities are endless. His new space is multi-functional, and he gets to share it with his friends, his customers and his sweet adopted dog Jazz.

Doug has been on quite the journey. Between early business ventures dancing from door to door, to making and selling jewelry, to moving all over to fulfill a life long dream of being a business owner, Doug has finally made it.

He might not be the richest man in Springfield, or have the most successful store, but he has found happiness.