Construction crews have begun dismantling an old bank branch building and chiseling up pavement to make way for the Bicentennial Plaza – A REALTOR® Community Partnership in downtown Springfield.
The demolition launches the $2 million project which will be part of a vision to link the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site to the state Capitol with a pedestrian mall. Once completed, the space will be available for public use for events ranging from performances to craft shows.
Bicentennial Plaza is being built on land owned by Illinois REALTORS®, a century-old trade association representing more than 47,000 real estate professionals. The association saw the creation of the public space as a way to give back to the community and the state.
“Illinois REALTORS® wanted to do something significant to celebrate the state that has provided so much to our members and those who rely on them,” said the association’s 2018 president, Matt Difanis. “Since our headquarters is located in the heart of Springfield’s historic district, our members felt it was important to play a supporting role in the bicentennial celebration.”
The plaza will extend from South Fifth Street to South Sixth Street. As part of the work, a former bank building will be demolished to make way for a space which will feature interpretive panels celebrating the people, places and events that complement Lincoln’s vision for society with equality and opportunity for all.
The association formed a task force nearly two years ago to begin planning for the project which is located on the north side of the association’s Springfield headquarters. Bicentennial Plaza is listed as a “Signature Project” by the state’s Bicentennial Commission, and will be part of festivities celebrating the 200th birthday in 2018. Chicago REALTOR® Jim Kinney is on the commission, and has been a longtime advocate for preserving the state’s heritage.
“Illinois REALTORS® work with heart in every community, so it’s only natural that we want to play a role in celebrating the state’s rich history,” said Jim Kinney, who is also a past president of Illinois REALTORS®.
The association is working with local REALTOR® associations throughout Illinois to commemorate the Bicentennial. More than 30 projects are being undertaken by these associations ranging from funding long-needed improvements to providing labor for clean-up days.