The building at 3 S. Old State Capitol Plaza has been empty since the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce moved out in 2009, but a new owner hopes to put the property back into productive use.
Aaron Acree, owner of Michael von Behren Builder, acquired the property last year from United Community Bank, which had foreclosed on the previous owner.
“We’re doing some structural stuff in there, it has been abandoned for a long time,” said Acree. “The roof leaked for years, and it collapsed in part of it – the roof went through down to the second floor.”
Acree said the building is currently “uninhabitable,” and crews have been working to correct the code violations to satisfy the city.
Long term, Acree hopes to create a total of six apartments on the second and third floors, plus retail space for the lower level. He says that plan is contingent on being able to obtain TIF funds, which may not be possible. However, Mayor Jim Langfelder has introduced an ordinance that would require the city to repay $760,646 to the Central Area TIF, with the idea that those funds could then be used to assist downtown property owners with needed renovations. In 2017, the city council authorized using funds from the downtown TIF to replace the roof on the Municipal Center East building, an expenditure that remains controversial.
Lisa Clemmons Stott, executive director of Downtown Springfield, Inc., said she is aware of seven properties that have new owners within the past year who want to convert the upper stories to residential use. According to Stott, making the various projects feasible would require around $730,000 in TIF subsidies.
“Everyone I’ve talked to says that’s the thing to do, get more apartments downtown,” Acree said. “It would be a great location, right on the plaza. But it’s going to cost more to rehab it than it would be worth when I’m done. The TIF funds would help fill that gap.”