Alderman push for quicker response times to liquor license applications

News Channel 20 by Sydney Dorner

Watch the interview here:

The city of Springfield may be changing the way it approves liquor licenses for businesses.

At city council, concerns were brought up about how quickly the city responds to owners seeking a liquor license. Now aldermen are taking a look at the process to see if it needs to be reformed.

Alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase thinks there should be a set time in which the city has to reply.

“Whether its concerns, approval or denials, ” said Purchase. “But if there’s concerns you have 30, 60, or 90 days to get that information back in to do a rebuttal.”

Alderman Joe McMemenamin says there are many steps to get a liquor license that take time like a background check and making sure applicants are not in debt to the city. McMemenamin thinks overall its better to be strict.

“It’s a review process, “said McMenamin. “Off course if we make a mistake, we’ll get into trouble but if we review too carefully we can upset some people. But bottom line it’s a privilege not a right.”

Downtown business owner Anthony Dandrudge says it took months to hear back from his previous alderman but once a new member was appointed the ball got rolling.

“Don’t hide anything, “said Dandrudge, the owner of Truth Lounge. “Be extremely and fully transparent. Have all your paperwork and documentation ready.”

Alderman Chuck Redpath thinks background checks aren’t necessary for a liquor license and says all permits for the city need a quicker turnaround time.

“We need to find a better way to do it, ” said Redpath. ” So we can speed up the process to get peoples their permits faster on all fronts but liquor license is the one we are concentrating on right now.”

Alderwoman Purchase says Mayor Langfelder, who is also the city’s liquor commissioner is looking into crafting ordinance that sets a firm timeframe for when the city has to respond to businesses for all permits not just liquor licenses.

We reached out to the Mayor’s office about wait times for liquor licenses and have not received a response at this time.

Great House BBQ Opens Downtown

Fans of Great House BBQ can get their fill once again. The restaurant closed its west-side location last summer and originally hoped to be open downtown by August. However, the issue of whether or not the existing hood and exhaust system had to be replaced – at significant expense – caused delays in getting the new location at Fifth and Adams streets open.

“Our Public Works department is really understaffed. There was a lot of back-and-forth, but we got it worked out so they could open up at the first of the year with a modified menu,” said Ward 5 Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase, who has been assisting owner Renatta Frazier in coordinating with the city’s building and zoning department.

Frazier owns the business along with three of her four children: Kurtis Mitchell, Dianna Mitchell and Benjamin “BJ” Frazier. Another son, Kourtney Mitchell, is a silent partner. The family originally opened Great House BBQ in October 2019 at 4233 W. Wabash in the former Tasty City Seafood & Trio space. In June, Frazier told SBJ about plans to open at 11 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, which most recently housed The Incubator, a café, bar and co-working space that closed during the early days of the pandemic.

In addition, Frazier said several other businesses are in the works that will be operated by various family members. She is also leasing space at 9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, which formerly housed The Remedy Bar & Drinkery, and plans to open a bar and nightclub called The Cave. “My son, BJ, will be overseeing the day-to-day operations for that,” Frazier said, while her daughter, Dianna, plans to open a bakery called Tyler D’s Café and Cakes in the space at 5 W. Old State Capitol Plaza where Long Nine Junction was previously located. A gaming café is already operating in the small space adjacent to the restaurant, and Frazier said Adams Street Convenience Store will soon open in the space at 441 E. Adams that used to be a tattoo parlor. “We had thought about doing a fitness center, but we feel like a convenience store is needed downtown,” she said.

Since The Remedy previously had a liquor license, Frazier said she doesn’t anticipate any delays in getting the new bar open, and Purchase confirmed she is supportive of the application. “I’ve known Renatta since she moved back here. She’s always shown professionalism and I feel very good about her establishment being added to the downtown Adams family businesses,” Puchase said.

According to Frazier, ‘”We’re pretty confident that we’ll have it done by the end of the month, or at least by Valentine’s Day.”

In the meantime, Great House BBQ is now open Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Weekend Recap – Dec. 11-12, 2021

🎅🏾 Weekend Recap 🛷
It was such a magical moment to cherish with Santa, Mrs & Mr. Lincoln over the weekend.
If you haven’t had a chance to come downtown, you still have three chances left to experience the Old Capitol Holiday Walks Presented by INB and continue to support our local stores. I found some unique pieces at Wild Rose and my ruby red lipstick 💄 at Willow & Birch.🛍
When I say, the timing was perfect for our Christmas giveaway “emergency kits.” We had extreme heavy winds with a tornado watch! 🌪 💨 If you received a free pass in your coffee mug, please be sure to use your family pass before January 1st at the YMCA!
This would not have been possible without the partnerships and I want to personally thank Molina Healthcare, YMCA of Springfield, Cafe Moxo, and Mel-O-Cream Donuts for participating in adding important items to resident households that will benefit them in emergency situations!
Last but not least, Union Baptist Church celebrated 150 year Anniversary and 2021 Cantata. Your service was simply amazing. All our messages recognized the commitment Union Baptist has to our community, THANK YOU Pastor Mac for having us each share a message with the Union Baptist family about your work in the church and especially in the community.
Remember there is a place at the table for everyone!

Springfield Small Business Saturday a Success

Successful Small Businesses Saturday

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — The 12th annual Small Business Saturday was a success in the Capital City.

The day was started by American Express and the majority of small businesses reported they are expecting a bigger holiday this year even with supply chain shortages.

Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase said she had an amazing time downtown at Tuesday night’s Committee of the Whole Meeting.

“We had business downtown that did over $20,000 in sales,” Purchase said.

Almost 80% of small businesses say sales from Small Businesses Saturday and this holiday season will determine whether or not they can keep their doors open in 2022.

Springfield getting its first rooftop bar

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — Springfield city council met for its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night and passed many ordinances that will have a big impact on Springfield going forward.

First, the council approved $520,000 of downtown TIF funds to go to Floyd’s Thirst Parlor for their project of building a kitchen and opening the Capital City’s first rooftop bar at the downtown location.

John Gabala, the owner’s attorney, gave a brief presentation and he said this move will expand downtown dining options and help revitalize the downtown area.

Ward 5 Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase was instrumental in getting the project off the ground and said she is ecstatic to have another economic driver in the area.

“The fact that we are able to create more jobs in this entity, that says something, too,” Purchase said. “We are coming out of a pandemic, but we are still in it in for an entity such as Floyd’s to have that impact and be able to create these jobs, both full-time and part-time, it says a lot”

The city’s portion is one-third, or $520,000, which comes from the downtown TIF. The rest of the money will be a loan from a local bank. Gabala said the project would create 41 jobs – 25 full-time and 16 part-time.


Floyd’s Thirst Parlor requests TIF funds for rooftop bar, kitchen expansion

Downtown Springfield may be getting its first rooftop bar as early as next spring. The co-owners of Floyd’s Thirst Parlor, Andrew Denton and Jeremy Bredemeyer, made an appearance before the city of Springfield’s Economic Development Commission on Oct. 19 to request $520,000 in funding from the Central Area TIF toward the total project cost of just over $1.5 million. The EDC unanimously approved the request, which now moves on to the city council for a final review and vote.

Floyd’s Thirst Parlor, 210 S. Fifth St., has been in business for nearly 20 years. Denton and Bredemeyer have owned the business for more than six years.

“This is something we’ve been working hard on for over a year,” said Denton. “Out of the ashes of COVID, we want to build something really unique and give back to a part of the city we love.”

He said the project also includes a significant expansion of the kitchen, which will lead to “readjusting our entire business model.” Denton said the addition of food service means Floyd’s would be able to expand its hours to 11 a.m.-1 a.m., five or six days a week, in addition to hosting events.

According to Denton, Floyd’s currently has about 1,600 square feet of usable space, which will double to nearly 3,000 square feet with the addition of the rooftop space. “It will increase our occupancy to 450 people. I’d like to see it be a heated area that we could use year-round,” he said, noting that they are still exploring various options for utilizing the rooftop space during inclement weather.

Just over a year ago, the EDC recommended $1 million in TIF assistance to help redevelop the property at 322 E. Adams into a rooftop bar and food hall. However, the Public Market project, as it came to be known, has yet to begin construction and was relying on crowdfunding to cover a portion of the renovation costs. In response to a request for an update from commissioner Sheila Stocks-Smith, Mayor Jim Langfelder said today that the Public Market project is in the midst of an ownership change but should be proceeding soon.

Ward 5 alderwoman LaKeisha Purchase said she met with Denton and Bredemeyer last week. “I was excited about it when I saw the drawings and heard about the entities that are involved.” She noted that O’Shea Builders is the general contractor and the project has strong union support, in addition to financing from the owners’ bank. “It made me feel confident that they’re very serious about this project,” she said.


City establishes pop-up party task force

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — The city is creating a task force to combat pop-up parties across the capital city.

Springfield police are teaming up with city leaders to stop these dangerous and unpredictable gatherings.

City officials say you never know where or when these parties are going to pop up, and they need to be ready for that.

This task force is made up of Springfield aldermen Shawn Gregory, Lakeisha Purchase, and Roy Williams, the mayor, the police chief, city lawyers, and neighborhood associations.

They’ll meet once a month to discuss pop-up party prevention.

The group has already met once, and they’re starting to create a plan of action.

“You don’t see too many pop-up parties in the winter time, so that’s the time we can do research from other cities,” said Alderwoman Purchase. “This is not just an issue in Springfield, this is a nationwide thing. Supposedly, a lot of this has taken place since Covid started.”)

Purchase says there have already been four or five parties at the Qik-N-EZ on North Grand Avenue.

The CEO of the company attended the Ward 5 meeting Tuesday.

He told residents that quick and easy is working with police to prevent these parties.

The city wants to partner with businesses to put up cameras monitoring popular party locations.


Sangamon County Democrats, treasurer seek applications for new Capital Township trustee

Local Democrats are looking to fill a vacancy on the Capital Township Board of Trustees.

The Sangamon County Democratic Party and board treasurer and supervisor Joe Aiello are collecting applications to fill the seat of Lakeisha Purchase, who is departing the elected position she has held since 2017 to represent Ward 5 on Springfield City Council.

“I’m looking for somebody that is gonna dive into it like Ald. Lakeisha Purchase did,” said county Democrat chair Bill Houlihan, who will make a nomination. “She held town meetings, she did all sorts of different things and (held) different responsibilities and things that township government has.”

Abby Powell:City’s TIF administrator leaves to take job at Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance

Aiello, a Republican, said he will consider everyone who applied for the position. He makes a recommendation on who fills the vacant seat on the board and doesn’t have to abide by whoever the party nominates for the vacancy.

Statute requires Purchase’s replacement to be a Democrat. The nominee will be the lone Democrat on the board and will serve out the rest of the term until elections in early 2025.

Houlihan and Purchase said they would prefer if a Black woman looking to run for reelection was chosen to replace her on the board. Purchase was the lone Black Capital Township board trustee and is the only Black woman serving on city council.

Statute requires Purchase’s replacement to be a Democrat. The nominee will be the lone Democrat on the board and will serve out the rest of the term until elections in early 2025.

Houlihan and Purchase said they would prefer if a Black woman looking to run for reelection was chosen to replace her on the board. Purchase was the lone Black Capital Township board trustee and is the only Black woman serving on city council.

Applicants must be a Democrat, resident of the township, and registered to vote.

Capital Township is designed to accelerate access to county government assistance for residents of the township. It also assesses property and provides general assistance for township residents.

Purchase was appointed to city council after she was unanimously approved by the council in September. She was nominated by Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder after former Ward 5 Ald. Andrew Proctor resigned and moved to Chicagoland for a new job and to be closer to family.


Police, city leaders explore new options to prevent pop-up parties

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Neighbors tell us pop-up parties in Springfield have resulted in shootings, fireworks, drag racing, and drunk drivers.

Police, city leaders, and businesses are now coming together to find a solution.

Lincoln Park resident Bill Baskett describes these events as “chaos” and “mayhem.”

“We are concerned,” Baskett said.

Many of the pop-up parties have been near the Lincoln Park Neighborhood at the Qik-N-EZ on Fifth Street and North Grand Avenue.

This past weekend, police were called to the gas station and convenience store after reports of dozens of cars and loud music.

Kevin Smith lives across the street and says he was asleep when everything unfolded.

He was quickly awakened when he heard what he says sounded like a cannon.

“We walk out on the porch, here we’ve got a party surrounding us,” Smith said.

Smith says he fears for his grandchildren and all the children in the neighborhood.

After a separate pop-up party last year, Baskett says his neighbor woke up to two bullets in her porch after attendees allegedly drove around the neighborhood.

But this isn’t a new problem.

Ward 5 Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase tells us there have been four or five pop-up parties at this location.

Assistant Chief Ken Scarlette with the Springfield Police Department says other places around town have also been popular party spots.

From the beginning of the pandemic to now, “We’ve seen an increase in the number of parties,” Scarlette said.

Scarlette says their safety plan includes bringing in extra officers, even if it means paying overtime or enlisting the help of other departments.

He says if they know about a party in advance, they can assign resources accordingly.

But, much of the time, police find these parties while they patrol, meaning they have to call in backup.

Scarlette says Springfield has no issue calling in resources from the county or nearby towns to help them if the situation gets too large.

He says officer safety is a big priority because the situations often include a dozen officers compared to hundreds of partygoers, sometimes intoxicated and operating vehicles.

Police and city leaders are also working with businesses to slow down these parties.

Scarlette says police have been in communication with the North Grand Qik-N-EZ about how to best disperse parties there.

“We’ve also worked with other businesses specifically in that area to provide security, or they would provide security for their own lots,” Scarlette says.

hat includes things like barricades, more lighting, and cameras.

Scarlette says there is a “multi-jurisdictional operation plan” to deal with the parties, but Springfield Police aren’t releasing some of the specifics.

Purchase says the Qik-N-EZ will alter their hours to deter parties as well.

She confirmed that the convenience will be shutting down in the overnight hours this weekend to protect their employees.

A representative from Chronister Oil Co., Qik-N-EZ’s parent company, will also attend the Ward 5 Town Hall next week.

But neighbors say they won’t feel safe until the parties stop for good.

“We cannot let this lawlessness and mayhem continue,” Baskett said. “These people need to be made aware of who is actually in charge.”

Officials say the organization of these parties happens on platforms like Snapchat, where details are only available temporarily.

The goal now is to be proactive and shut down pop up parties as soon as possible.

Some aldermen have also suggested a pop up party task force to help solve this problem.

Police say the planning and disbursement of the parties are costing the city thousands of dollars.


Delays in opening Springfield overflow shelter

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — The overflow shelter at the Salvation Army building will not open on Friday, Oct. 1 despite officials hoping that it would.

So when can we expect the doors to fully open?

The Heartland Continuum of Care and the Salvation Army, which are in charge of opening and operating the shelter, say there is no exact date but that it all depends on when they can hire and train staff.

Captain Jeff Eddy with the Salvation Army says they will need to hire 12 employees but no one has been hired yet.

The applications aren’t even available and Eddy says he doesn’t know when they will be.

Newschannel 20 and Fox Illinois asked Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder what the backup plan is if they can’t find any staff.

“I will leave it up to the experts, the Heartland Continuum of Care, the Salvation Army,” Mayor Langfelder said.

So that’s what we did. We contacted the Heartland Continuum of Care asking the same question. This was the coordinator’s response.

“I can’t staff, I don’t staff, that’s not my role. Certainly, we will do everything possible to get it done as quickly as possible, that’s what we’re looking to do,” Josh Sabo said.

This has led us to ask Captain Eddy with the Salvation Army if they will have enough time to hire and train workers to open the shelter before it gets cold outside.

In a text, Eddy said, “In previous years, the conversation didn’t start until right now and we got it accomplished.”

Newschannel 20 and Fox Illinois spoke with Ward 5 Alderwoman Lakeisha Purchase.

Purchase says she’s confident the city and these other agencies we’ve been speaking with will be able to open the shelter before it gets cold outside.

The overflow shelter is part of the immediate needs section of the city’s plan to end homelessness.