SPRINGFIELDMain Street communities throughout Illinois will get an important boost from the new Downtown Preference Bill, which will require the state of Illinois to locate new offices and other facilities in historic downtown buildings wherever possible.
Under the Downtown Preference Bill, which has been passed by the General Assembly and now awaits Governor [Rod] Blagojevichs signature, Main Street communities will benefit in a number of ways, said Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who is chairman of the Illinois Main Street Advisory Council.
Vintage downtown buildings will get spruced up thanks to the states investment, while neighboring merchants can look forward to a stream of new customersboth constituents and state employees, Quinn said.
The Downtown Preference Bill, HB1355, sponsored by state Rep. Rich Brauer (R-Springfield) and state Sen. Mike Noland (D-Elgin), is designed to help Main Street communities and others preserve historic downtown buildings, reducing the number of tear-downs and cutting back on sprawl by focusing state investment on central business districts.
The Downtown Preference Bill is one more measure that we can take to promote the historic business districts of Illinois, Brauer said. For generations to come, people will be able to visit these areas to get a true sense of Illinois historic past.
The Downtown Preference Bill also will benefit local governments by increasing sales tax revenues and lifting downtown property values.
This is a positive and creative idea, and is much appreciated, said Mayor Jim Burke of Dixon, one of 69 Illinois Main Street communities.
The Downtown Preference Bill will enhance local economies and also help the environment by reducing car trips to inconvenient outlying locations, Quinn said. Putting state facilities and offices downtown also makes it easier for state workers and the people they serve to use public transportation wherever possible.
The federal government and 10 other states already have similar laws in place. The Illinois Downtown Preference Bill does not apply to state facilities that are not suited to downtown locations, such as prisons, and does not require the state to move current facilities to downtown buildings.
The Office of the Lieutenant Governor administers Illinois Main Street, a comprehensive community revitalization program that promotes historic preservation and economic development of the states traditional business districts. For more information about the Illinois Main Street program, visit www.IllinoisMainstreet.org.
from the June 13-19, 2007, issue