Conn’s Hospitality Group announced in a press release issued Oct. 22 that the group has purchased the Vinegar Hill Mall, the Baur’s Building and the Dewitt Wickliffe Smith Mansion located on Cook Street between Second Street and Spring Street in Springfield.
The nearly three-acre site is located just south of the Capitol complex in downtown Springfield and is comprised of the Vinegar Hill Mall, a former restaurant and a large office building, along with parking lots adjacent to the buildings and two additional surface parking lots. Pawn King is currently the only operating business.
Listing agent Curtis Tillett, a commercial real estate broker with The Real Estate Group, told SBJ in January that the Vinegar Hill Mall complex was priced as a tear-down, with the asking price of $1,050,000 reflecting only the value of the land the buildings are sitting on, with the exception of the former law office at 625 S. Second St.
“The buildings have been mostly vacant for a number of years, and we see this as an opportunity to further our mission of preserving history through hospitality,” said marketing director Lauren Stead in a written statement.
Alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase, who represents Ward 5 where the properties are located, praised the Conns’ acquisition of the property. “I’m so thankful they have it now, because they have a reputation for doing this type of historic preservation work.” Purchase noted that she and Karen Conn served together on the city’s Economic Development Commission, and Purchase also previously served on the city’s Historic Sites Commission. “The Conns are valuable people to our community; they have experience and expertise in these fields,” she said.
Alderman Joe McMenamin represents Ward 7, where the Conns most recent business venture, Li’l Willy’s Smokehouse BBQ, is located. He said he is also pleased with the new ownership. “Karen and Court Conn have a solid track record for successful redevelopment, which combines architecture, historic preservation, entertainment, dining and good taste,” he said.
As far as specific plans for the property, McMenamin said the Conns had talked to him about “wanting to restore the full potential of Vinegar Hill Mall and restore it to its former solid standing.” According to the press release, more information regarding the use of the properties will be made available in the coming weeks via the Conn’s Hospitality Group social media channels and website.