University of Illinois renovating 3-story building in downtown Springfield

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

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The University of Illinois Springfield has purchased a three-story, 24,600-sq. ft. building at 401 E. Washington St.

After extensive renovations, the site will open in 2025 as the home of the UIS Innovation Center, one of 15 hubs of the Illinois Innovation Network.

“The purchase of the building helps us move to the next step,” said UIS Chancellor Janet Gooch. “It really gives us a chance to stretch our boundaries at UIS and contribute to Springfield and the Springfield community.”

The project will be funded with a $15 million state capital grant. Design work will begin immediately and construction is expected to begin mid-2024.

“We are all eager to begin the design phase of this exciting new space and start our work with industry, government and community partners to build a robust and inclusive human capital pipeline that will accelerate our regional economy and advance social prosperity,” said Bruce Sommer, UIS director of economic development and innovation. “We are grateful for the UI BOT and Illinois taxpayers who have provided their confidence in us and directed us to make this investment in Illinois’ future.”

The new Innovation Center will include:

  • Innovate Springfield, UIS’ business incubator – doubling capacity to help develop new businesses and launch start-ups
  • Technology labs, makerspaces and experiential labs
  • Space for the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership to collaborate with other policy institutes on research and analytical services related to critical issues such as community health, education and career access, and environmental protection.
  • Collaborative space for philanthropies, social service agencies, faculty researchers, students and lawmakers

“IIN was created to serve as a transformative network of networks, harnessing the brainpower of our state’s public universities to collaborate on local and regional issues and create opportunities that benefit Illinoisans from the Ohio River to Rockford and every point in between,” University President Tim Killeen said in a statement.

The project will also make UIS more prominent downtown, a goal that has been discussed for years.

“We have a unique role as a capital city university,” said Chancellor Gooch. “Having that presence downtown where things are happening, especially with government and policy, the opportunity for our students and faculty to contribute to those efforts in the downtown space takes it to a next level.”

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