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The Springfield project to buy a building at 11th St., S Grand Ave


A major redevelopment in the South Town neighborhood took its first step on Tuesday as Committee of the Whole sent the entire Springfield City Council an agreement allowing the Springfield Project to purchase a building on 11th Street and South Grand Avenue in using the city’s community development grant. funds.

The building, the site of a fatal shooting in an “unauthorized event” last February, is said to house a business incubator accelerator and co-working activities focused on small business development.

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Global development known as CAP. (Community Access Project) 1908 will eventually include two buildings to the east, said Dominic Watson, who heads both the Springfield Project and the Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce and who presented to the full committee. “1908” refers to the city’s race riot that led to the founding of the NAACP.

Funds for the purchase of the building, a former beauty supply store, total $ 179,235. The purchase includes several plots to the south of the building.

The ordinance passes to city council on Tuesday. It will consider the authorization as part of its agenda.

The 1908 Social Innovation Center, as the corner building will be known, is expected to be operational by August 2022, Watson said.

“It’s a win. It’s a step in the right direction and we are delighted,” said Watson.

There are also plans for two buildings east of the corner building as part of the CAP. Redevelopment of 1908, Watson said.

The Madison Furniture Store building will ultimately be an extension of the incubator and social innovation center. The South Town Theater, where the Walch Studio Stained Glass recently operated, will be restored and used as a performing arts center, Watson said.

The theater dates from 1915 and was part of the Frisina chain at one point, according to SangamonLink, before closing in 1959, although the marquee remained.

The long-talked about development, said John Stremsterfer, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, was an intentional choice by CFLL as part of its “Next 10” initiative.

“I think it’s a long neglected part of the community and to see that happen and see the support of the city would be great, in my mind, to have that wind in my back, so to speak,” says Stremsterfer. “I think Dominic is the right guy and I’m happy with what it brings.”

The site would be “cohesive,” Watson said, with incubation and acceleration centers like Innovate Springfield, which is located on the Old State Capitol Plaza and is part of the University of Illinois Springfield.

It would host small business development courses and offer shared workspace equipment and services, private and semi-private offices, a boardroom and media production, Watson said.

Dominic Watson of the Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Project speaks Tuesday outside the Springfield City Council Chamber.  The entire city council will be reviewing a deal for the Springfield Project to purchase a building at 1100 South Grand Ave.  E. using the city's community development block grant funds.  The building will be an accelerator incubator for the South Town district.

Bruce Sommer, director of economic development and innovation at ISU, saw the site as “almost interchangeable” with Innovate Springfield, which he co-founded.

“We really hope to collaborate and partner with programs to create new and existing entrepreneurs and develop them here,” Sommer said.

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Watson said conversations over the past few years have focused on how to meet the needs of the minority community through the incubator and it has become “very, very clear that there is an opportunity for partnership and that if we could centralize services on the east side and use the minority business incubator as a vehicle through a partnership with Innovate Springfield, then we could accomplish a lot. “

He added that the project would transform not only South Town as a neighborhood, but “the individuals who reside in South Town. This will be the first project to focus on redevelopment in the past 10 to 20 years or so.”

Carlos Dozier, 22, of Decatur was gunned down at a party after Valentine’s Day on February 20. Dozier later died at HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Four other people were injured.

The building had been “sublet” to a party planner that evening, Springfield police told The

Watson said the development would also benefit some of the area’s businesses, such as Clay’s Popeye’s BBQ and Bourbon Street. Mary Clay, owner of Popeye’s, and Calvin Pitts, owner of Southtown Construction and BONE LLC, both located in the 1100 block of South 11th Street, attended the meeting.

“South Town is a melting pot of community,” added Watson. “People from all walks of life have memories of there and we want to give it back its old appeal and add as much culture, as much diversity, as many resources as possible to this hallway and that’s going to have a positive impact on It will attract. larger neighbors who care about the community This will increase the value of the property.

“We will be using this as a model for redevelopment in other parts of the city, including the east side.”

Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory later said he was happy the project took a first step towards the finish line.

Ward 2 Ald.  Shawn Gregory

“There’s still a lot of work to do for the whole project, but getting something done and taking that first step feels really, really good,” he said. “We are happy to start making it a major corridor in our city where the community around it can truly benefit and grow and the whole city can benefit as well.

“We’re just trying to uplift this community street by street, block by block and I’m glad we got this victory tonight.”

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.

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