Founded in 1993, Downtown Springfield, Inc. (DSI), is a not-for-profit organization that works to preserve, promote and enhance Springfield’s historic central business district. The mission of DSI is to help make downtown Springfield an ideal place to shop, work, visit, invest, and live. The Central Area TIF, created in 1981, was the first TIF District in the City of Springfield and has had great success in revitalizing the downtown area. Many vacant structures have been renovated for use by new businesses, and historic buildings have been preserved rather than demolished. DSI has also spearheaded extensive beautification efforts and streetscaping.
There are many logical ties between Downtown Springfield and Enos Park, not the least of which is proximity. With the Enos Park neighborhood only a few blocks north of downtown, it provides easy access for residents seeking opportunities for dining, shopping, entertainment, and the many annual events which take place downtown. It is also a natural connection for tourists, who often visit the many Lincoln sites scattered throughout the downtown area and then travel to Lincoln’s Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetary, by way of 6th St. and then returning south on 5th St.
Northern Historic Corridor “Ribbon of Lights” North 5th Street
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EPNIA hopes to foster further growth in this area by creating self-guided walking tours for those interested in exploring the historic homes in the Enos Park neighborhood and perhaps bringing back the trolley tours that once traveled regularly along the 5th and 6th St. corridors.
Another connection between DSI and Enos Park is the focus on historic preservation, as well as having a TIF district to fund projects that will encourage redevelopment. While the downtown area is primarily commercial development and Enos Park is primarily residential, both areas have many properties that date back to the turn of the century or even prior and a rich history from which to draw. One way DSI has encouraged redevelopment of key historic properties was by creating The Heritage Foundation, a subsidiary non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax status that encourages and facilitates the development of vacant or underutilized downtown properties. The Heritage Foundation accepts donations of properties that may otherwise by demolished or left in disrepair and solicits proposals from individuals or groups who can demonstrate an ability to return the property to a productive use. It is also the primary funding arm for Downtown Springfield’s charitable, educational, and cultural heritage projects. The creation of Enos Park Development, LLC was intended to serve a similar purpose.
Finally, DSI and EPNIA are both very active organizations at the city level and both have also been quite vocal with regards to advocating for consolidation of the City’s three rail lines along the 10th St. corridor. This would allow for preservation of the downtown area, the historic neighborhoods, and the Medical District while also encouraging economic development in a largely underutilized area of the city. In 2010, the President and Vice-President of EPNIA were recognized at the DSI annual dinner for their collaborative efforts with DSI and other local organizations on this issue.
Steve Combs (EPNIA President) and Michelle Higginbotham (EPNIA Vice-President), recepients of the “Outstanding Cooperative Award for 2010” at the Downtown Springfield, Inc. annual dinner