- Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
A long vacant building is undergoing a $500,000 renovation to soon house artist studios, another boost for downtown Springfield as investment there has boomed in recent years.
Workers recently unveiled a sign at the former Ringside Cafe, 105 S. Center St., that touts 20,000 square feet of space available for artist studios.
Building permits filed with the city of Springfield show Wellington Square, the real estate division of the Turner Foundation, filed permits to make improvements to at least 15,000 square feet, a project valued at about $500,000.
Officials from the Turner Foundation declined comment this week, saying they are finalizing several details of the project.
The Hub Gallery, a local artists studio, said on its Facebook page this week that it will be moving from its former space on North Fountain Avenue into the new Center Street site. A Winan’s Chocolates and Coffees store will move into the former Hub Gallery shop at 32 N. Fountain Ave.
“We’ll re-emerge in November … in some fun new form at the Hatch Artist Studios (Ringside/Metallic) next to Mother Stewart’s Brewery,” the Hub Gallery said on its Facebook page. “Thanks for supporting downtown art and artists.”
Downtown Springfield has seen more than $400 million in investments over the past decade, including the Bushnell Building, Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co., the Springfield Regional Medical Center, the Chiller Ice Arena and several other projects. Renovations are ongoing at the Hull Plaza building at Main Street and Fountain Avenue now.
New developments are important to keep momentum for downtown moving forward, said Ted Vander Roest, executive director of the Springfield Foundation and a board member for SpringForward. The new nonprofit is focused on targeting investments on existing properties to revitalize the city’s center.
SpringForward isn’t directly involved in the project on Center Street, Vander Roest said. But signs have been popping up there and various locations downtown promoting SpringForward to let residents know work is happening behind the scenes to continue to draw investment.
Both smaller projects like the new Winan’s and larger investments like a revamped $6.7 million United Senior Services Center downtown signal downtown Springfield is a viable place to do business, Vander Roest said.
“We’re really pleased,” Vander Roest said. “We’re way ahead of where we thought we’d be. The little things like the chocolate shop and other things are popping up to keep things moving.”
The artist studios project is one more positive step for downtown, said Kevin Loftis, who owns Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co. next door. Loftis said he didn’t know a lot of details about the project but said having more people working next door can only help his business and downtown in general.
“Hopefully it builds up and they have events and we’ll have events, and it will build some synergy,” Loftis said.