Work has begun on an ambitious plan to transform a parking lot into a plaza which will showcase Springfield’s history and ties to Abraham Lincoln.
Bicentennial Plaza – A REALTOR® Community Partnership is a $2 million investment in the city’s downtown which will help realize a long-held vision of a pedestrian walkway linking the Abraham Lincoln Home Historic Site with the Illinois Executive Mansion and state Capitol. The plaza is being built on land owned by Illinois REALTORS®.
“Illinois REALTORS® wanted to do something significant to celebrate the state that has provided so much to our members and those who rely on them,” said the association’s 2018 president, Matt Difanis. “Since our headquarters is located in the heart of Springfield’s historic district, our members felt it was important to play a supporting role in the bicentennial celebration.”
Bicentennial Plaza is being built in part with $1 million provided by the city of Springfield. In addition to donating use of its land, Illinois REALTORS® and other private partners are providing the balance of the funds necessary to complete the project.
Bicentennial Plaza is dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln's vision for America as a country with opportunity and equality for all. The plaza will have more than a dozen interpretive panels showcasing the people who lived and worked in Springfield and who advanced his vision. Also included will be a marker commemorating the federal Fair Housing Act which guarenteed housing opportunity for all.
When completed, Bicentennial Plaza will provide space for public events. The plaza is located between Fifth and Sixth streets, just north of Illinois REALTORS®’ Springfield headquarters.
Transforming the so-called Jackson Street corridor in Springfield has long been a goal of city planners. The area around Bicentennial Plaza has sites linked with Abraham Lincoln, who historians say would have often used Jackson Street while he lived in Springfield to visit friends and conduct business.
The Illinois Bicentennial Commission identified Bicentennial Plaza as a “Signature Project” of the yearlong celebration. Chicago REALTOR® Jim Kinney is on the commission, and has been a longtime advocate for preserving the state’s heritage.
“Illinois REALTORS® work with heart in every community, so it’s only natural that we want to play a role in celebrating the state’s rich history,” said Jim Kinney, who is also a past president of Illinois REALTORS®.
REALTORS® committed to preserving historic properties
Two years ago the association created the Bicentennial Task Force which is chaired by Dixon REALTOR® Vicky Turner. She said REALTORS® throughout the state were eager to play a role in the celebration.
“Our members could think of no better way to recognize the people, places and events of the past than by supporting the state’s historic properties in 2018,” Turner said. “More than 30 projects are planned in 2018 by our members, ranging in scope from funding structural improvements to cleanup days.”