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Historic Springfield building nearly full

After 20 years and $15 million, Bushnell Building is near capacity.

The news that public accounting firm Clark Schaefer Hackett will lease office space in the downtown Bushnell Building brings the building to nearly full occupancy.

Jim Lagos, a Springfield real estate developer and president of Bushnell Investment Co. Inc., bought the East Main Street building 20 years ago in 1993. At the time he bought it, the Bushnell Building was empty and the windows were painted over to keep light from coming in.

More than $15 million later, including $10 million personally invested in renovations and a $5 million grant, there are 14 businesses renting space there. Tenants include CodeBlue, an insurance claims processing company; The Fountain on Main, a 1950s-style soda shop restaurant; discount retailer Dollar Days General Store; Bushnell Banquet Center; and an office of the firm Real Estate II, among others.

About 10,000 square feet of available space remains in two suites for lease, said Lagos, who also owns nearby office building One South Limestone Street. The whole Bushnell Building consists of more than 175,000 square feet of space, including a lower level, five stories for retail and office, and attic.

The building has been restored with open windows, high ceilings and a wrought iron marble staircase, combined with modern features including new lighting, heating and ventilation systems.

“The idea was to give this building a complete rebirth,” Lagos said. “It’s a modern building, but you’ve still got a tremendous historic value.”

Clark Schaefer Hackett will move about 55 employees downtown when it moves into the building this fall. The accounting firm’s current office is at 2525 N. Limestone St. The firm is a “high-end” tenant that will spend money and help the building’s other tenants, Lagos said.

“It’s a huge win,” he said.

Officials with Clark Schaefer Hackett considered several sites but settled on the Bushnell Building in a deliberate choice to help downtown revitalization. The firm will occupy most of the fifth floor.

“This is the center of business,” said John McKinnon, shareholder-in-charge of Clark Schaefer Hackett’s Springfield office.

The Fountain on Main recently held a grand re-opening to celebrate the restaurant’s expansion. The restaurant added more space including 40 additional seats, and added hamburgers to the menu of milkshakes, salad and sandwiches. The restaurant now seats 67 customers.

Fountain on Main also celebrates its 10-year anniversary of opening. Owner Geoff Norman says he feels fortunate to not only have survived the restaurant business for 10 years, but to have also survived 10 years as a small downtown business.

“It’s a very emotional thing,” he said.

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