Let’s be honest. Springfield has a love-hate relationship with downtown. Locals older than 35 tend to hang out south of Sunshine Street, but visitors to the Queen City are drawn to the historic square—and they’re not alone. The city and its throng of young and ambitious entrepreneurs are unabashedly dedicated to reviving the downtown grid. New restaurants, bars and lofts have gobbled up once vacant storefronts. Today, few of downtown’s buildings stand empty. Two Queen City natives who have dedicated their efforts to rejuvenating the downtown drag are brothers John and Billy McQueary, co-owners of Hotel Vandivort. In 2015, the McQuearys made themselves part of downtown’s heartbeat when they opened Hotel Vandivort—a 50-unit boutique hotel. The project was risky. Parking was limited, the historic building was a landmine of construction pitfalls, and the anemic economy was barely beginning to drag itself out of the recession. But for John and Billy, everything relating to Hotel Vandivort was full steam ahead. “The goal of this hotel was to be an economic and cultural spark for downtown,” John says. “A big part of the concept was to give an authentic sense of the city, and the only way to do that is to do it downtown.” The way John sees it, Springfield’s history, culture and identity stem from its downtown roots. “In my mind, there was nowhere else to be, even if this was considered a higher risk,” he says.