Potential TIF brings hope to South Town businesses

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WAND)- A potential expansion of a TIF district could breathe new light into a depressed area of Springfield. 

The City Council is discussing expanding the Madison Park Place TIF district to include the South Town area. The expansion would extend the district to go one block past South Grand Avenue to Pine Street. The $2 million TIF could have great potential for the area that has many vacant  properties. 

"Right now we have over 100 vacant properties meaning no structures at all in that 11th to 18 south grand to cook area and so that will help us really put those dollars to use if we were able to have some developers come forward or you know individuals who want to build housing or businesses or what you may anything of that nature in that area" said Mayor Jim Langfelder. 

Ward 2 Alderman Herman Senor, whose ward includes South Town, would like to see the expansion advertised properly to draw in the full benefits. 

"Hopefully we will put together a plan where we are actively advertising it and getting it out to the residents, and the business owners that this pertains to so they can take advantage of it, and we are speaking with school district to let them know what kind of impact this will have on them." he said. 

The expansion of the TIF would include the business corridor along South Grand Avenue and 11th Street, which once used to be a thriving street.

"Anybody who lived around here, you didn't have to leave this area. It was all here." recalled Court Dickason, owner of Madison Furniture Co. which has been in business since 1932.

Many of the business that are left on the street hope this could breathe new light into the street.

"I hope so for the neighborhood. We think positive. Any improvement is better for the neighborhood." said Dickason.

"A TIF could bring these commercial level renovations to an area that needs it and has a lot of history as far as Springfield is concerned." said BJ Pearce, Co-Owner of Black Sheep Cafe and South Town Sound Studios. 

Pearce says Black Sheep Cafe, along with several other businesses along the street including, Dumb Records and Boof City Skateshop are already creating an area that draws people.

"Black Sheep was started in 2005, in the 1980's Skank Skates opened and thousands of people from all over the world have came and played in that neighborhood, people from Japan, people from Mexico, People from the UK have played in Black Sheep Cafe and its really affected so many people." he said. 

Pearce believes the TIF district could only enhance what he, and other business owners have done to keep South Grand Avenue alive.

"There are more people than just me that are keeping it alive and that's really what draws me to it. It's a community of men, women, all people coming together to create something that changes their lives and they are really impacted by," he said. "We don't have any signs of stopping and really the TIF's coming is going to create even more of a positive atmosphere for expansion and create more history in just that area." 

It could take several months before the expansion is finalized.

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