A revitalized and resilient downtown is a priority in The Next 10, A Community Visioning Plan for Greater Springfield released in spring 2021. The report identified the need for a downtown master plan that addresses a strengthened connection with the Mid-Illinois Medical District. Downtown Springfield Inc. (DSI) recently solicited proposals for a multidisciplinary planning effort over the next 12-18 months. This is a collaboration among DSI, the City of Springfield, Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance and Mid-Illinois Medical District.

Proposals were due Jan. 31. Firms will be interviewed in late February. The goal is to develop a plan with a clear and concise vision and actionable steps for implementation to guide development and activities for the next 10-20 years. The coalition will appoint a steering committee to work with the selected contractor.

The plan is to address development opportunities, recommendations for urban design, including placemaking and branding, gaps in current available housing and needed amenities, and organizational capacity and sustainability.

The downtown project area is bounded by Carpenter Street, Edwards Street, Eleventh Street and First Street. Boundaries of the Mid-Illinois Medical District are North Grand Avenue, Madison Avenue, 11th Street and Walnut Street. The northern boundary of downtown overlaps with the southern boundary of the medical district by six blocks. DSI executive director Kayla Graven says, in comparison to other cities, Springfield's downtown has a large geographical area for its population size.

Graven said she is pleased with this first master plan for downtown and the medical district and is optimistic the plan won't sit on a shelf. She cites the cohesive partnership that is doing this together, the momentum of The Next 10 and leadership of the community foundation, and number of people who are engaged to see it through.

Karen Ackerman Witter

Karen Ackerman Witter started freelance writing after a 35-year career in state government holding various senior leadership positions. Prior to retiring she was associate director of the Illinois State Museum for 14 years. She is the past president of the Kidzeum Board of Directors and is an active volunteer...

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