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C-Street improvements, paid for through tax increment financing, are a quality-of-place initiative that aims to bring visitors to the historic district.
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C-Street improvements, paid for through tax increment financing, are a quality-of-place initiative that aims to bring visitors to the historic district.

C-Street improvements approved by Springfield City Council

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More than $650,000 of improvements are coming to the Commercial Street Historic District following Springfield City Council’s approval this week.

Tax incremental financing, or TIF, funds in the amount of $290,000 will be used to fund the projects, and another $365,000 from previously budgeted city Public Works funds will provide a cost-share for the updates to public areas, the ordinance states.

According to the ordinance passed at an Aug. 23 council meeting, public input was collected this summer on proposed improvements and funding priorities.

Here are the planned C-Street projects:

  • $5,000 for directional signage to guide visitors to the district and its parking lots.
  • $230,000 in tax increment financing funds and $365,000 in Public Works funds for public parking improvements to a lot at Pacific Street and Campbell Avenue and another at Pacific Street and Robberson Avenue, including redesign, repaving, lighting, landscaping and irrigation.
  • $40,000 for public art sculptures, including purchasing or commissioning two permanent pieces and sponsoring two rotating pieces for multiple years.
  • $15,000 to develop a Jefferson Avenue Footbridge Plaza design for upgrades to hard surfaces, landscaping and lighting and installation of a sound system.

Previously approved funding for gateway signage also will move forward.

The C-Street Tax Increment Financing Special Allocation Fund was established by council in 2008 to pay for redevelopment and revitalization of the historic district. Those planned improvements were based on a 2006-approved document, the Commercial Street Historic District Strategy for Success.

TIF funds allow local governments to invest in public infrastructure improvements upfront and pay for those improvements later by capturing future anticipated increases in tax revenues generated by the project. It is an instrument often used to eliminate blight.

C-Street became a prominent destination in the 1870s with the arrival of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, according to the Historic C-Street website. Hotels, restaurants and bars sprang up along the railroad, and the area became a hub of industry and entertainment until the 1960s. The decline of rail travel led to closures and blighted conditions on C-Street, but revitalization efforts have led to the establishment of restaurants, coffee shops, boutique stores, a farmers market and annual events in the district.

The funding measure passed without discussion at the council meeting, but at a presentation at the Aug. 9 meeting, Senior City Planner Olivia Hough praised C-Street entrepreneurs and Community Improvement District members.

Hough said, “They are just a great example of a grassroots group of people who really know how to get things done and put a lot of hard work into it.”

Councilperson Richard Ollis said he had just visited the district the weekend before and lauded the progress he sees on C-Street.

“What has been done to that area as far as the improvements, the flowers, with this additional parking – I’m really excited about this plan,” he said. “I think it’s a real jewel of Springfield.”

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