SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Historic Commercial Street is continuing improvements as more customers come to enjoy the shopping and restaurants of the street.
In the past, C-Street housed social services with a mix of restaurants.
“Commercial Street was at its heyday when the railroad was first coming through,” Springfield Director of Economic Development Sarah Kerner said. “I think we’ve all heard the stories about the competition about what at the time was North Springfield, a separate city which is where Commercial Street is, and what is our downtown now, of trying to have the nicest restaurant all those things. But eventually, the two cities merged, and that’s why we kind of have two downtowns in a way.”
The city wanted to change the narrative of C-Street. In 2008, it created a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan to help revitalized the historic street.
“What a TIF does is capture an incremental increase, and reinvest it either in private or public development projects,” Kerner said. “In this case, the incremental increase is 100 percent of the property taxes for the base year, and 50 percent of the sales taxes for that same base year are reinvested in public projects. Because property values increase, and hopefully sales tax revenues increase with all the re-development, the amount of money that is generated each year that the TIF captures each year should grow. That’s definitely what we’ve seen on C-Street.”
Joseph Gidman owns Van Goh’s Eaterie, Cafe Cusco, and Chabom Tea and Spice shop on C-Street. Cafe Cusco was the first to open in 2013.
“Places I first looked at were typical, Southside, Battlefield, Republic Road, places that made logical sense where I wouldn’t lose money,” Gidman said. “Everything up here has always been a gut feeling.”
Back in 2013, C-Street still looked different.
“There was very little business up here,” Gidman said. “Most of the street was social services, and there was a lot more homeless.”
C-street is improving parking and alleyways, along with adding public art to keeping drawing in people.
“There’s a list of eligible projects in the TIF plan, so every year we go to the C-Street stakeholders, and we take a look at the list of projects,” Kerner said. “We talk about what we’ve accomplished so far and what they would like to see in the upcoming year.”
Despite the past, C-street owners still had hope for its future.
“Even when the neighborhood was different, I feel like a lot of business owners still integrated,” Gidman. “We grew with it. We’re super happy for the improvements.”
“There are businesses, from the beginning to the present, that have been operating through the up and downs of Commercial street,” Kerner said.
The TIF will expire in 2031.