Springfield aldermen unanimously approved a measure Tuesday which provides $1 million in funding for a plaza to be built on property owned by Illinois REALTORS®.
The REALTORS® Bicentennial Plaza would be built on the north side of the association’s headquarters at 522 S. Fifth St., and could play a key role in efforts to redevelop a corridor extending from the Abraham Lincoln Home National Historic Site to the state Capitol.
The Springfield City Council vote allows use of funds from a tax increment financing district in the downtown area. The plaza, once built, would commemorate the state’s 200th birthday in 2018.
The plaza’s approval comes as the city determines next steps for a large lot nearby lot which once was home to a vacant, three-story YWCA building. That structure was torn down last month, and now city leaders are debating what to do with the large, undeveloped property located across from the Executive Mansion and Illinois REALTORS® headquarters.
Illinois REALTORS® sees the Bicentennial Plaza as a way to enhance the downtown area. The space could be used for performances or even street fairs once completed.
“We are grateful that Illinois REALTORS® can join with the city of Springfield in celebrating the role the city has played in the state’s rich history,” said Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter. “We look forward ultimately to having a space that can serve as a community focal point, and which will enhance the historic downtown area well beyond the birthday celebration.”
The plaza would be constructed at an overall cost of $2.6 million, and would require an old bank branch owned by the association to be razed to make way for the public space.
Illinois REALTORS® has launched plans for its more than 44,000 members to celebrate the state’s 200th birthday by having local REALTOR® associations adopt historic properties throughout Illinois. The association’s theme for the commemoration is: “REALTORS® Working with Heart in Every Community.”
“Our members are at work throughout the state to make communities great places to call home,” said Dixon REALTOR® and Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Task Force Chair Vicky Turner. “REALTORS® truly are working with heart in these communities. The Bicentennial Plaza and plans to have members pitch in at historic sites reflect our deep commitment to the state’s heritage.”
Former Illinois REALTORS® President Jim Kinney serves on the state’s Bicentennial Commission. The association plans to work closely with the state on commemoration of Illinois’ statehood.