Although some amount of property vacancy is desirable to accommodate the natural ebb and flow of business ventures in our community, a long-standing vacancy is not. Ryan McCrady, president and CEO of Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance, says that part of his job is to “take a look at property to see what barriers there are to redevelopment.” Sometimes this means lining up a grant or a tax increment financing (TIF) opportunity, and McCrady does what he can to help businesses that want to locate in our community.
McCrady notes that one of the benefits of redevelopment is that it typically takes place within existing infrastructure, with sewers, sidewalks and roads already built, and with amenities like bus routes established. He also says that there is an indirect positive impact to nearby areas and points to Pillsbury Mills as an example of the potential for improvement. “Create opportunities, and the neighborhood flourishes.”
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Unfortunately, there are often barriers to redevelopment in play to some degree, and Springfield has several significant commercial properties awaiting new use.
Vinegar Hill Mall
The Vinegar Hill Mall complex is located just south of the Capitol complex in downtown Springfield. The nearly three-acre site is comprised of the Vinegar Hill Mall, a former restaurant and a large office building, along with parking lots adjacent to the buildings and two additional surface parking lots. Pawn King is currently the only operating business.
Listing agent Curtis Tillett, a commercial real estate broker with The Real Estate Group, says decline in the demand for commercial space in the downtown area is due to the steady decrease of state workers who used to fuel businesses in the area. It’s a snowball effect, as “the overall condition of those buildings has deteriorated over the years due to age, and the fact that there haven’t been businesses in there who have money to do maintenance,” notes Tillett.