As part of the Forward SGF Comprehensive Planning process, one of the City of Springfield’s planning consultants, Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA), conducted an online survey in November and December of 2020 to establish a vision and identify priorities and initiatives to guide Historic Commercial Street for the next five to 20 years. View the full results of the survey here.
“The Commercial Street Plan will give us an opportunity focus on what’s working well and formulate strategies to ensure the district continues to thrive in the long-term,” said Principal Planner Randall Whitman.
Not surprisingly, C-Street’s variety of restaurants, bars and coffee shops were most often cited by those who responded to the survey as reasons for visits to C-Street prior to the pandemic. Other popular responses included the C-Street City Market, shopping and art galleries and events and festivals.
Survey respondents indicated that they felt that redeveloping and repurposing vacant lots and buildings on Commercial Street and focusing on improving conditions in the adjoining neighborhoods (Midtown to the south and Woodland Heights to the north) will be the most important factors for the future of Historic C-Street. The continued success and popularity of Commercial Street will be critical to the long-term health and revitalization of the neighborhoods that surround the district.
Other factors included maintaining the “Main Street” feel of locally owned, independent businesses on the street and ensuring that Commercial Street is diverse and welcoming to all.
Public improvements such as providing financial incentives for existing and new small businesses, opening the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge and improving connectivity and wayfinding from other parts of the city were the top actions needed from the City of Springfield for the future of the area, according to the results of the survey.
“It was evident from the survey that nearby residents have a strong attachment to the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge as a community landmark and pedestrian access. Reopening the Footbridge and tailoring incentives to preserve and enhance C-Street will be top priorities identified in the Plan currently being drafted in cooperation with Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) the Commercial Street Advisory Team and City staff. The plan is expected to be complete in early 2021,” said Senior Planner Olivia Hough.
Additional ideas for improvements to C-Street included:
Outdoor space enhancements – dog park, gathering space/park, small event space/amphitheater, kid friendly, more public outdoor seating, etc.
- Improved (perception of) safety – many called for some form of an on-the-street safety (or hospitality) presence
- Mitigation of, and better support for, the homeless population
- Improved entryways and gateways
- More dependable and coordinated hours for businesses
- Decorative lighting – over the street, at intersections, at gateways, holiday-themed, etc.
Demographics of respondents
The survey collected nearly 700 responses from participants representing a cross-section of Springfield residents distributed by age, income and ZIP code, according to PUMA. Over one-third (35%) live in the 65803 ZIP code, which is the home of C-Street. More than half (53%) identified as a non-walking distance from C-Street Springfield resident while 20% said they lived within walking distance. Half of the respondents indicated they are a regular shopper/diner on C-Street. More than half (53%) said they visited C-Street once a week or more to a couple of times a month prior to the pandemic.
“We have continually heard from Forward SGF participants that Springfield needs to be more walkable, liveable, attractive, and welcoming. Commercial Street sets the bar in all those categories and is a great example to emulate elsewhere in the city,” Whitman said.
A full summary of the survey results is linked from the online version of this article at SGFNeighborhoodNews.com.