The #AdamsFamilyPatio was born out of the pandemic last year as a way to give businesses more outdoor space in order to more safely serve customers during that pandemic. DSI went block to block downtown, talking to each one on what they wanted to do, and worked with the city to make that happen whether that was a lane closure or half a block in the case of the #AdamsFamilyPatio.
First it’s important to note that the pandemic is not gone and the space provided by the #AdamsFamilyPatio allows us and the other businesses on our block to seat and serve customers in an outdoor, socially distanced setting.
Second, and more importantly, this was a silver lining for us, for our downtown, and for Springfield. The changes made during the pandemic have jumped us farther forward faster than anything else so far in efforts to revitalize our downtown.
If you look at other successful downtowns you’ll find the kinds of things we’re doing now, areas shut down to traffic, outdoor performances, walkable areas, vibrant experiences for people to come down and enjoy. In fact, the current DSI overarching strategy is to develop and nurture an Arts & Entertainment district downtown. This was the number one recommendation from the National Main Street Organization as to how Springfield could best move forward quickly in revitalizing our downtown.
There are growing pains of course with change and especially so when that change has been accelerated but these are changes for the good. When we say a parklet can’t replace the patio it’s because a parklet is great for some extra seating but it’s not an experience. It’s not a walkable neighborhood. It’s not live music or comedy on the street to draw people down and then let them walk around and enjoy the rest of downtown. We want a parklet, it’ll be great during the week and maybe even over the winter months if that works out, but the weekends need the patio. The weekends need the experience.
Just like in 2020, this wasn’t a Buzz Bomb effort it was a whole #AdamsFamily effort. Our whole block signed onto this plan, including residential concerns and our request was made with lessons learned from 2020 to try and minimize disruptions or issues for others.
So about that traffic disruption, you can’t turn from 5th street and drive directly through to the 300 block of Adams but keep in mind only half the block is closed because we have garages and the US Bank Parking canopy so you can turn down and get through via the alley if you really want to. Of course 4th street is open too, so this minimal detour should not deter anyone intentionally heading to a specific business. Keep in mind this area is blocked twice a week already for the Farmers Market so people are used to this disruption. We just expanded the weekend closure.
As for reducing traffic driving by businesses on the 300 block, we don’t think there will be a significant decrease there but regardless we think it’s better that way as we don’t want traffic driving by. We want more people downtown, parking, walking around and we think this will increase business to our neighbors rather than decrease it. In fact, that is explicitly our goal. Additionally, we are ready to do more if necessary. We really do not want anyone’s business to suffer, if more signage would help for instance we’d do that immediately. The rising tide lifts all boats.
We may offer one thing to bring people down, whether it be a show, some great beer, or an art show but people going out have other needs like food. We also don’t serve liquor or wine, many people don’t want just beer. We also close at 11pm or midnight, hour(s) earlier than other bars downtown.
We’ve considered opening a kitchen before, we could change our liquor license to be able to sell more than beer, but we excel at being a brewery and it makes more sense in a pedestrian friendly, walkable downtown Arts & Entertainment district to say “hey you should check out these great restaurants right around the corner” or “hey you want a cocktail, here’s some great nearby bars” and that’s exactly what we do. We send people to our neighbors and our hope, our plan, is that this will increase business for all.
So how about that parking that is lost shutting down half our block? Well, it’s literally just a few spaces, don’t forget the US bank parking lot, and if you have to park a little ways away and walk to us? Honestly? Great, we want that. Now you get to see more of downtown, more places you might want to go.
But the noise! What about our downtown residents? Look, downtown is a mixed use area, it’s residential and business it’s always going to be noisier than living in the country or something. In fact, again if you look at other successful downtowns or recommendations from groups like National Mainstreet things like the #AdamsFamilyPatio and the hustle and bustle doesn’t deter residents, it attracts them.
We’re not flippant on this topic though, when we’ve had issues brought to us we’ve worked with the people to address them. The real answer here is developing a noise ordinance like other cities have and we are fully committed to that and have been working with and will continue to work with the city to make sure we have one that is fair and equitable to both business and residential concerns. In the meantime while the noise ordinance is in process we limit both how late we run shows and the volume of them.
Finally, what about all the special treatment we’ve gotten? Isn’t that unfair to other businesses? We haven’t gotten special treatment, the truth is we put the work in, the creativity in, and leveraged the advantages of our location which happens to be a side street that is already regularly shut down to create something cool. Remember DSI went block to block to see what each block wanted to do, everyone had opportunities. Yes, what we have done isn’t as easy or possible everywhere else but that doesn’t mean nothing is. Everyone utilizes their location advantages as best they can. The businesses on 5th and 6th have the most traffic and can use that to their advantage. Bars with space for beer gardens can have great ones that others can’t. There was no special treatment here, there was hard work, team work, and determination.
Did you miss the original Facebook post that went with this? Here ya go –
There’s a lot of confusion and anger out there and that’s not helping anyone, here’s the truth, the issue, and how we can address other’s concerns.
A business on the block west of us complained that shutting down our block for the whole weekend would decrease traffic to their place and negatively impact them. A meeting was scheduled with the mayor to discuss which was then co-opted by several other “interested parties” who also wanted to complain about the #AdamsFamilyPatio.
We have a permit to have half the block closed from May-Oct and the Mayor has proposed revoking that and replacing it with parklets for Cafe Moxo and/or Buzz Bomb.
The #AdamsFamily does not agree with this solution.
First, it’s not just Moxo and Buzz Bomb – all the businesses (and residential concerns) on the block came together to ask for and receive this permit.
Second, parklets cannot replace the patio. We actually want those too, they’ll be great during the week and maybe even the winter. We’re building a Downtown experience, one meant to benefit not just the #AdamsFamily but all of downtown. We want a walkable, vibrant Arts & Entertainment district and we’re doing our best to help move that forward.
Third, we DO NOT want to hurt any other business rather exactly the opposite. Our goal is to bring more people downtown, get them to walk around, give them entertainment, and have everyone benefit. We believe this will ultimately help everyone. The rising tide lifts all boats.
It’s tough running a city and you can’t always make everyone happy. We’ve worked with the city and the Mayor on several things to great success but in this case we don’t agree on the problem or the solution.
So what can you do?
~Tell the Mayor you want the #AdamsFamilyPatio to remain from May-Oct as currently permitted. ~Come downtown and while you’re here patronize ALL our great businesses. Remember we don’t serve food, liquor, or wine but we have some great neighbors that do, please visit them. Help prove us right, let’s make ALL of downtown a success story. ~Encourage your favorite businesses to keep innovating and trying new things. We are all stronger together and our downtown is stronger together
Finally, please read our Official Statement on the #AdamsFamilyPatio, why a parklet can’t replace a patio, why this will help and not hurt, our plans for other concerns, and then read our Downtown Mission Statement and learn about what we’ve done and what we hope to do.
Buzz Bomb Brewing Co is just a few folks who came together to start a brewery and we chose to buy a building in downtown Springfield because we saw the potential and thought that we could be – wanted to be – a part of revitalizing that downtown.
We immediately started reaching out to the other breweries in town because we wanted to foster a brew community like you see in other cities with thriving brewery scenes. We immediately started reaching out to our neighbors downtown too because we wanted a community there as well. One business can only do so much no matter how great it is but one business that’s part of a vibrant downtown can be oh so much more successful. The rising tide lifts all boats.
When we started, and to this day, we hear a lot about how “there’s nothing to do in downtown” or even “nothing to do in Springfield” or “people from the west side won’t come downtown” and of course “there’s no parking in downtown”. We are doing our best to change those things because we want to succeed and a successful downtown is the best way to do that.
We found like minded friends on our block and the #AdamsFamily was born (credit to Mark from Cafe Moxo for coining that!), we started working together and we started succeeding together.
One of our first successes was approaching US Bank about getting an official agreement to use their parking lot after hours and on weekends. Could Buzz Bomb have just asked for ourselves? Sure. Would they have said yes? Maybe, US Bank is invested in the success of downtown too. Isn’t it better though to have parking for all of us though so that maybe you will come down, stay a while, have some food, visit the shops, and of course relax with a cold beer? So that’s what we did and now we have parking for all #AdamsFamily businesses. The rising tide lifts all boats.
Our efforts haven’t been limited to our block, once that parking agreement was hammered out we included DSI with the idea that it could be a model for other areas downtown and the many other lots that are not used at night and on weekends.
The best way to combat “there’s nothing to do” or “people won’t come” is to give them something to do and give them a reason to come. We started with a few simple shows, a trivia night, and quickly expanded into a variety of events trying to give our local artists of all types another forum and promote the heck out of it to get people down here. We specifically tried some different things like Buzzed Bingo that maybe would get those people who don’t normally come downtown down there. Then we gave out prizes from other downtown businesses to give them a reason to come back.
We kept looking for ways to make things better, attending the downtown retailers meetings so we could look for overlaps or creative promotions. “Why Not Wednesdays” for instance, or the holiday walks, we tried to provide entertainment and promotion to help us all succeed. When we realized we couldn’t have outdoor seating we looked into the law and then worked with DSI to get that law changed so that we could. Again offering the experience to everyone else downtown who might want the same thing. The rising tide lifts all boats.
Finally, our hope was that we’d see multiple areas downtown like the #AdamsFamily and have encouraged other blocks to work together. How cool would it be to have distinct little mini-neighborhoods in a vibrant downtown?
We need a revitalized downtown, especially coming out of the current pandemic. We need an Arts & Entertainment district.