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MGM Begins Demolition At Proposed Springfield Casino Site

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WAMC
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Work has begun to clear the site in Springfield where MGM proposes to build the first casino in western Massachusetts. 

Work crews are tearing down the former Zanetti school building, marking the start of the major demolition work that will precede construction of the planned $950 million resort casino that is scheduled to open to the public in September 2018.

" This has been a long awaited day that most of the community has been very excited for," said Jason Rosewell, executive director of design and construction for MGM Springfield. He said the demolition crews took advantage of storm-free weather and started the work Monday, a day earlier than scheduled.        

It is expected to take six weeks to raze the 70,000-square-foot former school building.

" This building we are methodically taking down due to salvage requirements. You never know what parts of this building may be reused in the future," explained Rosewell.

95 percent of the rubble from the demolished school building will be recycled, according to Rosewell.  The wood classroom doors are to be salvaged and used in the casino hotel.

The Zanetti school site is to be the future location for the 7-story, 3,385-space parking garage for the casino.

There are 19 buildings in the three-block area of Springfield’s South End neighborhood where the casino is proposed. 14 buildings are to be demolished, but a schedule for that work has not been finalized.

Structures that will be spared from the wrecker’s ball include the façade of the former State Armory and the First Spiritualist Church.           

The fates of the buildings that were acquired by MGM were sealed during lengthy negotiations between the casino company and the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

MGM has promised to put a total of 2,000 people to work during the construction of the casino. Rosewell said to date a total of 700 people have worked on the site.

MGM was able to begin demolition after securing state environmental and local zoning approvals in late December.  But MGM needs additional state and city approvals before it can begin to build the actual casino complex.

Springfield City Council President Mike Fenton has announced hearings will take place January 19th, 20th, 25th and 26th. The council will use these meetings to review the site plans for the project, consider permanent street closures in the casino work zone, and take up amendments to the 2013 host community agreement that would allow MGM to scrap plans for a 25-story hotel and make other proposed design changes.

" I anticipate votes will be completed by the 26th of January," Fenton said in an interview last week.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission must also approve the proposed design changes. MGM officials say the redesign, which shrinks the casino complex by about 10 percent, will not reduce the amount of projected revenue or the number of promised jobs.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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