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Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005 02:18 am

“Final” plan

Three groups still must approve medical district proposal

The Springfield Medical District has a master plan, although, according to Mike Boer, president of the medical-district commission, the plan will not be “final, final, final” until three bodies have approved it. An advisory council comprising neighborhood residents will convene to approve the plan at a Nov. 1 meeting. The commission must also sign off on the plan before submitting the proposal to the Springfield City Council for final approval. If all goes as well, Boer says, the master plan could be approved by the end of this year. Still unclear, however, is how much the district will cost taxpayers. Tax-increment financing has been proposed at previous meetings, but Boer says that no specific costs were included in drafting the master plan because specific projects have not yet been outlined. Meanwhile, the second phase of the process — marketing the proposed district to investors — will get under way despite limited funding for marketing activities. Dan White, from the Chicago branch of the Baltimore-based urban design firm RTKL Associates Inc., who presented the master plan on Monday at Memorial Medical Center, suggests that marketing would primarily be done through signage to “create and solidify [the medical district’s] identity without spending too much money.” Since the process began three months ago, much of the plan has remained the same. Most development efforts in the district — bounded by Walnut, Eleventh, and Madison streets, plus North Grand Avenue — are taking place along Carpenter Street, the area’s proposed main street. Other highlights include improving access to downtown from the district and a network of “pocket parks” to connect neighborhoods within the district. However, planners reconsidered linking Enterprise and Calhoun streets when members of the community balked at the idea, saying that such a plan would jeopardize several historic homes in the area. Therefore areas to allow both institutional expansion and as neighborhood preservation were included through the creation of a buffer zone within the district. The 11-member commission meets at 6 p.m. today, Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Illinois Technology Enterprise Center on Carpenter Street to discuss input from Monday’s meeting.
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