Project Spotlight: A New Vision for the Former Pillsbury Mills Site

The Challenge

The former Pillsbury Mills site in Springfield, Illinois, was once a vibrant symbol of pride—a sprawling 18-acre complex with rail access, 26 buildings, and 190 massive grain storage silos. It served as a major employer and a bustling food processing plant. However, following its sale to scrappers, the site deteriorated and became a health and safety hazard, causing concerns for the community. In 2017, U.S. EPA intervened and performed an urgent removal of asbestos-containing building materials at the site resulting from the improper demolition activities.

In 2019, a group of dedicated stakeholders came together, and in 2020 officially formed a not-for-profit, Moving Pillsbury Forward (MPF), to take ownership of the property and work on resolving this community hazard and eyesore. Obtaining demolition funding was one of the main challenges to preparing this site for its next reuse, as there were over 578,000 square feet of remaining buildings in varying stages of deterioration. MPF reached out to U.S. EPA for land revitalization technical assistance for analysis, collaboration, and new insights to provide additional momentum for the project.

Challenge: Moving Pillsbury Forward was grappling with two issues at the site: securing funding for demolition and uniting the community around a shared vision for reuse.

Outcome: Moving Pillsbury Forward secured funding to continue work on the site. Results of the Technical Assistance project included clear insight into demolition costs and project phasing, dedicated stakeholders, engagement with community members, and a viable reuse option.

Vita Nuova’s Support

U.S. EPA’s Technical Assistance Program provided contractor support and facilitated the involvement of Vita Nuova and GDIT in the project. Vita Nuova helped support the revitalization of this distressed community with a comprehensive reuse assessment, including zoning and funding options, demolition estimates, and concept alternatives for this complex and unique site. Vita Nuova also recognized the need to communicate with stakeholders and understand community needs and concerns; their goal was to catalyze MPF’s efforts by clarifying and quantifying the constraints and opportunities for each site reuse alternative. Ultimately, Vita Nuova identified and presented three feasible reuse options to the community and project team.


The Outcome

Gaining clarity around the demolition costs and project phasing helped MPF obtain funding for the next steps. After evaluating reuse options, Moving Pillsbury Forward is interested in an industrial reuse and is now engaged in demolition as part of their preparation for marketing the site. With committed stakeholders, active community engagement and support, and a viable option for reuse, MPF is well-positioned to facilitate the redevelopment of the former Pillsbury Mills site, while revitalizing the Springfield area, eradicating blight within the community, and fostering new avenues for growth.



Learn More

MPF continues to make remarkable progress, fueled by the generous contributions of time from the leadership team and dedicated volunteers, as well as funding from diverse public and private sources. Please visit MPF’s website to read more and sign up for project updates.

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