Despite multiple challenges to the growth of the downtown district (state budget anyone?), creative entrepreneurship found a way! Flip through DSI’s 2016 Year in Review to read about our new businesses, the first residential infill project in 25 years, expansions of some of your favorites, and more! Check out the 2016 DSI Year in Review now.
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.
|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
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.
Best Facade/ Signage
Public/ Private Partnership
Best Retail Business
Rep. Tim Butler
Innovative Business Concept
Best Not for Profit Initiative—
Illinois Stewardship Alliance Farm to Table Series
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>
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.
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
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!
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.”
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>
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).
Since 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.
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.)
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.