FY 2021 City Budget Hearings

Last night, DSI went to the City of Springfield budget hearings for the three departments our organization works with the most: Economic Development, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Public Works. The departments were offering their proposals for the FY2021 city budget which starts March 1, 2020. Here are some highlights from the presentations and discussion with Aldermen of interest to those of us who care about downtown.

DOWNTOWN TIF FUNDS

In three years, the TIF will have positive cash flow. There is no cash available for payouts for obligated projects this fiscal year. Annually, the TIF pays $1.4M to the County to disperse to the taxing districts, including District 186. This fiscal year, $1.25M will go to the YMCA project at 4th and Carpenter, $450,000 is targeted for DK Collections’ hotel project at 4th and Washington, and another $165,000 needs to be paid for the sewer project on the north side of the Y Block. Discussion included whether the City would bond against future TIF projects.

VISITORS BUREAU AT 6TH AND ADAMS

There has been a 550% increase in visitors to the Visitors Bureau since it opened its visitors center on the Plaza vs when it welcomed visitors at its headquarters on 7th Street. There were 17,000 people who stopped in in 2019. We advocated for a Plaza visitors pop up back in 2017 and we’re thrilled with the results.

CVB GOES MOBILE

The Convention and Visitors Bureau’s budget includes a $54,000 “wrapped” van to utilize for interstate travel when hunting for new conventions and for local events and site visits.

LOCAL SPRINGFIELD PROUD

CVB will be working with other local organizations on a local pride marketing campaign.

PARKING METERS

City has sent out the same RFP they used 18 months ago again. Public Works plans to hold a public input meeting in a few months.

The current RFP calls for upgrading 200 of the 1400 meters downtown to be able to accept a credit card. Much discussion with Aldermen about whether this is the right strategy.

Staff admits that some meters are not used much in the outskirts and may consider taking them out.

TREE ASSET INVENTORY

Public Works has $100,000 in its proposed budget for an inventory of Springfield’s trees and a plan to replace them. Aldermen displayed skepticism for the price tag for this consultant. This is an initiative of the Mayor’s Urban Forestry Commission.

BIKESHARE

Public Works said Gotcha will be launching their bike share program in downtown this spring.

TWO WAY STREETS

Along with the modernization of traffic signals which have outlived their useful life and need to be replaced, the City intends to convert several downtown streets back to two-way (as they were previously in the 1950’s and before) for easier navigation and safety.

Regarding the costs — $4.3M is the cost for overall signal modernization and two-way street conversion of 4th, 7th and Adams as the first phase. If the City reversed course and decided not to do the conversion back to two way (which DSI would oppose), the cost of the modernization would be $3.4M.

BEAUTIFICATION

The Mayor’s beautification proposal includes downtown and the major corridors of the city. It was unclear how the routes would be prioritized. Public Works said they would be putting together a five year plan for this and their other projects.

Public Works mentioned installing a street arch at First Street. We’re not sure what this is, but we’re asking! Sounds like the replacement of something historic to go along with the Mayor’s beautification proposal.

SUPPORT FOR DSI

The Economic Development budget included $50,000 for DSI’s economic development work.

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Downtown is represented by two aldermen – Andrew Proctor (Ward 5) and Shawn Gregory (Ward 2).

First Night Springfield

Thirty-three years. That’s how long ago Springfield’s annual CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS began. It was the first one west of the Alleghenies and remains the longest-running in Illinois. Although there are fewer venues now than in 1987, the quality of entertainment offered is as great as ever.

ADMISSION WRISTBANDS

For adults, the cost is $18 when purchased by December 30 or $20 on December 31. The cost is $5 for children ages 5 through 18. Under age 5, free. Wristbands are available in-person at the Hoogland Center for the Arts box office or online at the link below.

Find out how you can volunteer or participate as a youth artist or musician.

Scroll to bottom for associated road closures for fireworks.

DETAILS

Please venture downtown on New Year’s Eve to enjoy a fine and varied array of performing and visual arts. In the afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00, free children’s crafts and performances will be offered at Springfield High School. In the auditorium there at 4:15, Mark Gifford will perform on the Barton Theatre Organ ($5 admission or First Night wristband).

5:00 marks the start of the evening’s entertainment on multiple stages at the Hoogland Center for the Arts and the Lincoln Home Visitors Center. A display of art created by young people will be open on the lower level of the Hoogland Center, too, as part of the All-inclusive Space.

At 7:00, performances will begin at Dumb Records on Monroe Street.

The traditional First Night fireworks display will begin at 8:00 at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue. The fireworks are designed by Nostalgia Pyrotechnics under the direction of Carl Steinmacher.

Following the fireworks, another round of First Night performances will begin at Dumb Records, Hoogland Center for the Arts, and Lincoln Home Visitors Center.

The celebration concludes at 11:15 so that attendees can get home or to a favorite spot to ring in the New Year.

Sheila Walk, Arts Council interim executive director, notes, “During all those years I enjoyed attending First Night Springfield with friends, I never imagined that one day I’d help to organize the Arts Council’s signature event. There are so many moving parts, from city permits to publicity to program design, from piano tuning to performer contracts. I don’t know if one person could manage it all. I am so grateful for the help of summer interns, board members, and volunteers. Courtney Wick contacted entertainers and arranged the schedule. Misty Hagstrom is laying out the event program. Sue Shaw and Lindee Hall are managing the silent auction and (new this year) raffle. Ronda Brinkman is handling the afternoon at Springfield High. The board is selling program ads and finding sponsors, essential since this is our annual fund-raiser. Yes, it’s hard work – but it’s important to provide the community with a family-friendly, alcohol-free, handicapped-accessible way to bring 2019 to a close. I’m proud that the Arts Council can continue to fulfill its mission to enrich the community through the arts in such a fine and festive way.”

ROAD CLOSURES

Capitol Avenue between 2nd and 4th will be red bagged on Monday December 30th 2019 at 2 pm.

The Supreme Court and State Library parking lots need to be empty by noon on December 31st.By 6:45 pm on December 31st, Public Works will close Capitol between 2nd and 5th and close Fourth Street north of Jackson.

All streets will reopen at 8:45 pm or when fireworks workers are out.

Red bags will be removed early morning of January 2nd.

DSI’s Old Capitol Holiday Walks

Santa has been loading up his sleigh…and Christmas is just four more days away! This is the final Old Capitol Holiday Walk of the season — but plenty of your favorite downtown businesses will be open in the coming days for your last minute gift-buying!

Here are today’s special activities:

-Shopping for gifts!! And maybe a little something for yourself….
-Dining at some of Springfield’s best restaurants
-Be ready to make your own #HallmarkMoment
-Free! Santa in the Old State Capitol (1-5 pm)
-Watch for the SYPG Elves (2-5 pm)
-Visit with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln (1-5 pm)
-Free! Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides by Red Gate Farm (pick up at 5th and Adams from noon – 3 pm)
-Free! Grab a ride in the Santa Van (1-4 pm)
-Grab a tasty beverage and enjoy the downtown scene
-Watch “A Message at Midnight” Play at the Lincoln Home at 7 pm

DSI’s Old Capitol Holiday Walks

Downtown Springfield is the perfect backdrop for your holiday season! Just like our favorite Hallmark movies, spending time in the downtown district allows you to create your own story line of holiday magic…

Here are tonight’s special activities:

-Shopping for gifts!! And maybe a little something for yourself….
-Dining at some of Springfield’s best restaurants
-Be ready to make your own #HallmarkMoment
-Free! Santa in the Old State Capitol
-Watch for the SYPG Elves
-Free! Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides by Red Gate Farm (pick up at 5th and Adams)
Parents Night Out at the Kidzeum (with a donation)
-Take a selfie at the SMTD Lighted Bus at 4th and Adams
-Special performance by Franklin Middle School at 6:30 pm in Old State Capitol
-“A Message at Midnight” Play at the Lincoln Home at 7 pm
-Grab a tasty beverage and enjoy the downtown scene

Answering Your Pressing Questions: Downtown University Presence

Q: Does DSI want one or more universities to locate programs in the downtown neighborhood?

A: We sure do, and we’ve been on the record since at least 2013.  According to a 2017 study by the Brookings Institution, downtown higher ed programs outperform their peers, and have emerged as “key competitive differentiators” for cities. The study entitled, “Hidden in plain sight: The oversized impact of downtown universities,” highlights the important interplay between universities, startups, and local jobs. (Source: Why downtown universities help fuel the urban startup ecosystem)

The creation of downtown business incubator and social innovation hub Innovate Springfield by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln in 2015, which is now a part of UIS as of 2018, was the biggest step so far in a long dialogue. Innovate Springfield is now part of the Illinois Innovation Network, a State initiative led by the University of Illinois System to foster the breakthrough research, discovery, and entrepreneurship that drives progress, job creation and economic growth.

Q: Why has the conversation heated up now?

A: Governor Pritzker has been touring new downtown IIN hub locations in Chicago, Peoria and other cities and Springfield needs to finalize its location as well. UIS Chancellor Koch has been seeking a downtown location for more than a year.

Plus, the Governor and legislative caucuses passed a capital bill last year, which only comes around once a decade and includes potential funding for higher ed projects. Combining these two state funding streams could create an opportunity for University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University — the two largest higher ed systems in the state — to work more closely together in the areas of innovation and incubation.

This concept fits in brilliantly with what DSI has been preaching for a while — supporting and increasing the number of “Creatives in the Core” is the way to accelerate our local economy by supporting the businesses who are here and creating more jobs.

Q: I’ve read news reports by Bruce Rushton and Brenden Moore about a plan to locate potential buildings at the epicenter of 4th and Adams.  What’s up?

A: The staff of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance met with property owners from 2nd to 4th Street, and Monroe to Washington, to share their organization’s ideas about a preferred location for potential university programs.

The universities have not formally selected any location yet.

DSI has not yet provided a formal proposal to the universities, Governor Pritzker or Senator Andy Manar (chair of the Senate’s Appropriations II Committee), because we await information about needed square footage. However, we are now working with SSGA, AIA Illinois, Landmarks Illinois, and Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation to develop resources for the decision-makers when we, as a community, enter the final phase of determining the best location.

Those resources include analysis of other downtown neighborhoods across the nation that have a well-integrated higher ed presence, such as: Scott Community College in Davenport, IA; The University of Memphis in Tennessee; and the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Wisconsin.

No matter how quickly our proposals must gel together in the next few months, a process that includes transparent, collaborative community participation is vital.

Q: Where would a downtown university presence be located?

That has yet to be determined. The universities have not yet weighed in with space needs for programs or a preferred location(s).

It’s understandable why SSGA identified Fourth and Adams as an epicenter for any potential higher ed projects: it is near the State Capitol; who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the potential greenway left when Third Street rail ways are consolidated to 10th Street; and it is also an area that has already attracted private and city investment, and many new businesses, in the last decade, which would provide the “interplay” highlighted in the Brookings Institution report.

Q: What is guiding DSI’s participation in these conversations?

Downtown Springfield Inc is a nationally-accredited Main Street organization, a coalition of downtown businesses, and a champion for downtown investment for nearly 28 years. We have more than 150 business and non-profit members.

Our daily work is to celebrate and support the investment that entrepreneurs and residential developers have already made in the downtown neighborhood and to work to attract even more investment.

On December 12th, the DSI Board of Directors took this official position:

  • A vibrant university presence is invaluable to the long-term vitality of downtown Springfield.
  • In keeping with the strong sense of community that exists downtown, we believe transparent, collaborative stakeholder participation is instrumental in developing and nurturing a downtown university presence.
  • We look forward to working with all community partners to integrate the universities into downtown Springfield.

Downtown university programs could potentially turn surface parking lots into beautiful new buildings and vacant buildings into living laboratories. These gaps have previously been identified as black eyes in the SDAT Report, in the RUDAT report, and in the City’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan. It’s at least a good place to start the conversation about location.

As a neighborhood community, we are beyond excited to become the setting for Springfield’s “interplay” between small businesses, technology and higher ed research in the coming years. We look forward to working with the universities, as a community, to give Governor Pritzker a proposal he can get excited about, too.

DSI’s Old Capitol Holiday Walk

Downtown Springfield is the perfect backdrop for your holiday season! Just like our favorite Hallmark movies, spending time in the downtown district allows you to create your own story line of holiday magic…

Here are today’s special activities:

-Shopping for gifts!! And maybe a little something for yourself….
-Dining at some of Springfield’s best restaurants
-Be ready to make your own #HallmarkMoment
-Free! Santa in the Old State Capitol (1-5 pm)
-Watch for the SYPG Elves (2-5 pm)
-Visit with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln (1-5 pm)
-Free! Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides by Red Gate Farm (pick up at 5th and Adams from noon – 3 pm)
-Free! Grab a ride in the Santa Van (1-4 pm)
-Outdoor Market on the Plaza (1-4 pm)
Holiday Tea Seatings at Edwards Place at 11 am and 3 pm
-1850s carol sing at First Presbyterian Church at 6 pm
Explore the Elijah Iles Home with Kids Activities 1-4 pm & Candlelight Tours 5-8 pm
-Enjoy Holiday Design Tours of the Dana Thomas House with the Springfield Civic Garden Club at 5:15 pm and 6:30 pm
Springfield Choral Society presents George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at 7:30 pm tickets are $15.
-Grab a tasty beverage and enjoy the downtown scene

Knights of Columbus Convention

We welcome the 250 attendees to the 2019 Illinois State Council Knights of Columbus Winter District Deputy Meeting to our beautiful downtown!

DSI’s Old Capitol Holiday Walk

Downtown Springfield is the perfect backdrop for your holiday season! Just like our favorite Hallmark movies, spending time in the downtown district allows you to create your own story line of holiday magic…

Here are tonight’s special activities:

-Shopping for gifts!! And maybe a little something for yourself….
-Dining at some of Springfield’s best restaurants
-Be ready to make your own #HallmarkMoment
-Free! Santa in the Old State Capitol
-Watch for the SYPG Elves
-Free! Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides by Red Gate Farm (pick up at 5th and Adams)
Parents Night Out at the Kidzeum (with a donation)
-Take a selfie at the SMTD Lighted Bus at 4th and Adams
-Special performance by Lincoln Magnet School at 6:30 pm in Old State Capitol
-Architectural tours of the Dana Thomas House led by Anthony Rubano at 5:00 pm & 6:30 pm
-Grab a tasty beverage and enjoy the downtown scene

 

Small Business Saturday | Holiday Walks Kick-Off

Join Downtown Springfield Inc. for the first day of the 2019 Old Capitol Holiday Walks!

It’s also Small Business Saturday, the nationwide day to spend a portion of your gift-giving dollars on local and independently owned businesses, which you can find in spades in the downtown neighborhood, with friendly shop owners, free gift wrapping and more!

SPECIAL EVENTS

10 am – 5 pm
Small Business Saturday Shopping

Noon – 3 pm
Free! Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides by Red Gate Farm – pick up at 5th and Adams (Plaza side) Cancelled today due to weather

Noon to 5 pm
WNNS will be out on the Old State Capitol Plaza collecting toys for the Springfield Toys for Tots drive. Moved into the Visitors Center at 6th and Adams

1 – 5 pm
Free! Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Old State Capitol

1-5 pm
New! Enjoy a holiday-themed Outdoor Market on the Old State Capitol Plaza. Cancelled today due to weather

1-5 pm
You might just see our 16th President and his wife doing their holiday shopping so feel free to stop and chat with them and grab a photo! Compliments of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

1 pm Moved into the Visitors Center at 6th and Adams
Drawing for the DSI Santa Hat presented by the State Journal Register raffle winner on the Old State Capitol Plaza (6th and Adams). Purchase a Santa Hat for $10 through the month of November to receive coupons to some of your favorite downtown shops and support DSI’s work to support local businesses. 

1-4 pm
Jump on the Santa Van to take you between downtown shopping and Springfield’s historic sites, sponsored by the Springfield Historic Sites and provided by the Ancient Athletics of the St. Andrew’s Society of Central Illinois. Donations are accepted. The Santa Van stop is next to the Visitor’s Center at 6th and Adams.

2-4 pm
Lincoln Public Library is hosting a Holiday Tea!

5:30 pm moved inside the Old State Capitol due to weather forecast
Join us for Santa’s Grand Entrance, Springfield Youth Performance Group’s holiday performance, and the Official Lighting Ceremony of the community tree by Ace Sign Company & Butler Funeral Home followed by New! the High School Choir Competition sponsored by Landmark Automotive Group and SYPG Foundation and presented by 98.7 WNNS. You’ll enjoy performances by the top three choirs with the winning school being presented with a $500 check.

The participating schools, in alphabetical order, are: Glenwood Chatham High School, Springfield High School, and Taylorville High School.

5-7 pm
Take a selfie in front of the SMTD Lighted Bus! It will be parked at the corner of 4th and Adams. Don’t forget to tag your photos with #holidaywalks and #hallmarkmoments!

7 pm
Dinner Reservations, your choice

Click the link below for more information about the entire five-week Old Capitol Holiday Walks and plan your own magical holiday experience today!

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