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Court Square Redevelopment Project Moving Forward

The six story building in Springfield's Court Square known as 31 Elm Street
WAMC
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               A Massachusetts agency has approved plans for a major urban renewal project in downtown Springfield.  

        The state Department of Housing and Community Development has approved the disposition of the former Court Square Hotel – a six-story building in the heart of downtown that has sat vacant for decades as several redevelopment attempts fizzled.

         The action by the state agency clears the way for the eventual transfer of the property from the Springfield Redevelopment Authority to a private group of developers who plan a $51 million restoration project that will create 74 rental apartments along with space for retail stores.

         Mayor Domenic Sarno said the approval marks a significant milestone in the advancement of the redevelopment project.

         " It's a shot in the arm to get that historic building back to its grandeur and that is what we are going to do," said Sarno.  "That will mark another initiative that some people said would never happen in the city of Springfield."

         Even in the middle of the coronavirus public health crisis, city officials and the developers have conferred regularly in an effort to keep the project on track, according to Sarno.

        " We are anxious to get going and that is going to move forward," said Sarno.

         The project is being led by WinnCompanies of Boston and Opal Real Estate of Springfield.

         In February, Michael O’Brien of WinnCompanies said final funding for the project had been obtained from nine public and private entities.

         " It will be a reality," O'Brien said of the project.

          The city of Springfield is putting up $4 million and MGM Springfield is investing $16 million.

        The announced timetable for the project calls for a groundbreaking by the end of this year and a construction period of 18-24 months.

           Housing construction is allowed in Massachusetts under the current state of emergency. Gov. Charlie Baker has said it is essential that work continue to address the state’s severe housing shortage.

           The Court Square developers plan to negotiate a project labor agreement—essentially collective bargaining with local building trade unions that occurs before a general contractor is hired.

 

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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