Jacksonville Historic District Experiencing Economic Comeback

Apr 13, 2017

Empty storefronts still line both sides of Main Street, which runs through the heart of one of Jacksonville’s historic districts. Many spaces are reminiscent of the area's heyday in the early 1900s. But some of the old haunts are now filled with sounds of construction as new businesses move into the Springfield neighborhood.


Hyperion Brewing Company is breathing new life into one of the storefronts on the corner of 8th and Main streets. It is just one of many small businesses planting roots here.

Hyperion initially faced some resistance from city churches when it seeked approval from the city before moving to Main Street, but brewer Troy Orton said the opposition is not representative of the religious congregations nearby.

“The churches have been really supportive, they’re just happy to see growth and change in the neighborhood, and an increase in business also can mean an increase in their congregation, bringing people back to Springfield,” he said.

Pastor Susan Rogers of The Well at Springfield said she does not see breweries as a threat to the family-friendly environment.

“I more see them as bringing people into our neighborhood to contribute to the economy of Springfield, which is something that we desperately need,” she said.              

Breweries are not the only new businesses calling Springfield home. Across the street from Hyperion will be Crispy’s, a new Italian restaurant. And soon, Main Street will become home to everything from Social Grounds Coffee Company, which aims to employ homeless veterans, to The Block Skate Supply, a skateboard shop relocating from the Riverside area.

Springfield Preservation and Revitalization spokeswoman Jamie Toraason says the diversity of businesses is refreshing in the neighborhood that has struggled.

“Some of these businesses have been here three decades or more, and they’re thriving businesses, so it's exciting to see how excited they are too about businesses coming because as everyone improves, it rises the whole community,” she said.

Toraason said commercial landlords in the area are eager to attract more tenants, so she expects this to be just the beginning of Springfield’s much-awaited comeback.

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Contact Amy Hadden at newsteam@wjct.org or on Twitter at @AmyNHadden.