FAQs

Springfield, North Mansion Block Development

Who is the group that was selected to develop Springfield’s Y Block? 

The North Mansion Y Block Development Group, NFP (“Y Block Group”). It is led by Don Tracy and the project will be supported through private funding including a donation from Governor Rauner and his family.

Who is Peter Wirtz? 

He is a world class architect from Belgium who was selected to design this project. His firm has designed similar outdoor features for parks and community spaces in London, Paris, Warsaw, and other prominent locations.

What is the cost of this development? 

$8 million estimated.

How will the project be funded? 

Through private donations, not only to develop the park, but for its maintenance for 10 years.

What is the City of Springfield’s involvement in this project? 

The City of Springfield owns the block and will lease it to the Y Block Group. The City will provide utility assistance and police protection for the area.

Is there a project manager for the development portion of the park? 

FWAI Architects, Peter Wirtz, Y Block Group, and a construction manager.

When will the construction begin on the park? 

Early next year

When will the park be open? 

If the project passes the necessary planning phases, it can be open as early as winter of 2019 or Spring 2020.

Who will oversee the park after it is open? 

The Y Block Group will maintain and oversee the Park for 10 years. After 10 years, the Park will be gifted back to the City. At that point the City has the opportunity to keep the block as is, change the area, sell or lease it for private or public development like the state. Any future options allow the City to be flexible with changing desires, needs and times.  

Will the park be open to anyone? 

Yes, during park hours.

Will there be places where my kids can play? 

Yes. The design will provide a unique play experience for children along with various activities that will take place throughout the year. These will include interactive fountains, ice skating in the winter and grass hills that will be a natural children's playground.          

Will there be places to sit and relax or eat? 

Yes. In addition to the natural amphitheater located by the grass hills, there will be plenty of public seating throughout the park along with a sidewalk cafe.

What else will the park have? 

The park will have a strong water element with a rill (stream of water) that will flow out of a raised pool at the highest NE corner of the park, by gravity through the 75 foot center fountain pool. On the sides of the center fountain, two raised circular pools with Cypress trees sprouting out of them will jet water to the central fountain over the heads of the public. The rill will then flow from the central fountain towards its endpoint, a raised pool with a continuous sitting bench for children to play with boats.

Why is this park plan better than mixed use? 

Downtown already has many great spaces for rehab and new commercial development. This rare tract of open land in downtown Springfield with great views of our magnificent state capitol, renovated governor’s mansion, and other iconic and historic landmarks, will be developed through private donations. Since the Park will be privately funded, City TIF funds can be used to develop other downtown projects which will further everyone’s efforts to transform the City’s core.

Will there be any property or sales tax benefit associated with this development?     

The sidewalk café on 5th Street will generate sales tax revenue. A successful park will also increase downtown foot traffic and length of stay by visitors and residents to the area. Through activation of the space, the Park will draw people which will positively increase the economic activity for businesses and greatly improve downtown real estate values.  

Why do we need another park downtown when Union Square is underused? 

Union Square is more a square than a park and is very open to a very busy street and the associated car and truck traffic, noise and emissions. The Y Block development will be no ordinary park. It will be an oasis in downtown Springfield complete with trees, green mini-hills and big water. The sound of running water against the backdrop of the dappled, feathery light of the metasequoia trees will be something completely new and unique to Springfield.

Who will do the programming? 

The City of Springfield will be instrumental in bringing various community organizations together to work on planned activities for the space. 

How will this park attract both residences and tourists? 

Water attracts people, restaurants and housing development. This unique park will give Lincoln tourists, Statehouse visitors and convention visitors another reason to visit Springfield and perhaps stay a little longer. The interactive water features will provide a place for residents and tourists to cool off on hot sunny days. The landscape will be a tranquil environment for relaxation and frolicking. During winter months, the park’s terrain will allow for both sledding and ice skating.

Will the development request financial assistance from the City? 

No

Will the development free up money for the City? 

Yes. TIF funds that the City would otherwise spend to develop the Y block for commercial and/or residential use, can now be used for a subsidized building project elsewhere in downtown Springfield.

When will the City Council vote on this?  What other details or timelines are relevant? 

The project ordinance will be discussed at the City Council’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, March 27 and at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 3. If approved, major fundraising will re-commence, and we hope to complete design work this year.