Main Construction Is Finished At Springfield's Union Station
The countdown is on to the opening of a new transportation hub in western Massachusetts later this year.
There are so-called “punch list” details to be taken care of, such as putting in furniture, building out retail space, putting up a flagpole, hanging artwork, placing historic artifacts, and installing security cameras. But the major construction work for the $94 million renovation and restoration of Springfield’s Union Station is finished.
" So, for all intent and purposes, we're done," said Christopher Moskal, director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. The station will have its grand re-opening in April, he said.
Workers have painstakingly restored the passenger waiting area to invoke the grandeur of the 1926 Union Station right down to the terrazzo floor and a working original clock. The renovations to the station, which closed in the 1970s, include a new train boarding platform, a 26-bay bus terminal and 377-space parking garage.
" We think the design and the job the construction manager has done is absolutely superb," said Moskal.
Officials announced this week that 75 percent of the available retail space in the station has been rented. Negotiations are continuing with transportation companies for ticketing and office space and with potential tenants for the almost 70,000 square feet of commercial space.
Moskal said the goal is to collect enough revenue from the leases so the city’s taxpayers will not have to cover an operating deficit for the building.
" We are fortunate that the city was able to negotiate in the ( casino) host community agreement with MGM dollars that go toward this project, which is $500,000 a year for 15 years," explained Moskal.
Mayor Domenic Sarno did not rule out the possibility that Union Station will get some financial help from the city.
" Many of these union stations across the country, when you first start ,it is not uncommon for them to be occupied at 40-50 percent and there is a ramp up time of 2-3 years, so there might have to be some type of subsidy, as I've down with other economic development projects in the city of Springfield," said Sarno.
The downtown station is expected to be an economic catalyst drawing an estimated 4 million train and bus passengers in its first full year of operation, according to Kevin Kennedy, the city’s Chief Development Officer.
" In addition to the 4 million ( people at Union Station), there will be 10,000 a day coming down to MGM, so all these people create economic opportunities for everybody," said Kennedy.
The city is working to develop a dining district and an innovation district for entrepreneurial startups within a short walking distance from the station.