Downtown is Ready for a Makeover

Downtown Springfield is ready for a makeover.

Residents say the city of Springfield, along with local businesses, are trying to reinvent Main Street.

Many buildings along the main strip in Downtown have stood empty for the last few years or were occupied with bars and strip clubs, and according to local business owner Jack Koehler these businesses attracted unsavory people. In recent years those businesses have slowly been replaced with new restaurants and art galleries.

Koehler or Mr. Sweety to children of local residents said that he wanted to create a fun place where the sun always shined and people would feel welcomed. The modern, brightly painted building provides a visual contrast to other downtown buildings.

“I wanted to create a 15 minute Disney Land,” Koehler said. “So when you walk in you have a smile and when you leave you have a smile, and that’s taking place all the time. Everybody loves it here.”

Local artists fill Sweety’s walls with paintings. The paintings are left from the last Art Walk.  The Springfield Art walk takes place the second Friday of every month and is made up of about 25 businesses, including restaurants and art galleries.  It provides people with an opportunity to not only explore local artists but there is also live music from local musicians.

Courtney Griesel, an analyst with the city manager’s office who focuses on economic development, has lived in Springfield for about 10 years.  She is involved with a couple of projects that she said she hopes will improve parking and traffic through downtown.

Currently, she said, parking is not enforced and people are able to park in front of businesses all day, which, she added, creates a loss of customers.  Enforcing the parking laws downtown will cut down on people hanging out all day which has been a major problem in the last few decades.  Downtown planning has become a major issue in recent years because of the businesses that have begun to open up.

“Springfield is a main street designated city,” Griesel said “That means it’s kind of a grassroots, pro-business, let’s have businesses organize together and then engage together, communicate together, and then improve type of city”

Christian Rodriguez, a Lane Community College student and relatively new resident to the area, likes the community.

“It’s a good community,” Rodriguez said. “Where people help one another and do new things, like recycle, which is something you don’t see in other cities.”

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