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Springfield City Council OKs development of historic property

Located at 169 Maple Street in an historic district, this apartment building was constructed in 1920.
City of Springfield
Located at 169 Maple Street in an historic district, this apartment building was constructed in 1920.

The Parsons Block apartment building will be restored

Plans are advancing to restore a unique apartment building in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Boston-based Davenport Companies is proposing to restore and redevelop a landmark apartment building located at 169 Maple Street in the heart of the Maple High Six Corners neighborhood.

“Our organization focuses on historic rehabilitation of buildings and offering them at market-rate for the community they are in,” said Joy Martin of Davenport.

She said the building is truly unique. It is a five-story brick structure that contains only 11 apartments. Each is about 2,000 square feet with three bedrooms and a full living room and dining room.

“I think what it offers to the city is a larger living space for extended families to live together,” Martin said.

The Springfield City Council unanimously approved a special permit for the project, which is estimated to cost more than $3 million.

Last month, several Councilors including Finance Committee Chair Trayce Whitfield objected to putting $250,000 in city funding toward the project because Davenport plans to charge $2,000 a month to rent one of the apartments. But Whitfield said she supports the project.

“We need to development to happen, and I was never against the development, I was against the funding,” Whitfield said.

The source of the city funding is the Community Preservation Act, which puts a surcharge on residential property tax bills to raise money for historic preservation, open space usage, and community housing.

Councilor Zaida Govan said the approval of the special permit serves to underscore the need for more affordable housing in Springfield.

“Whenever I see new housing come into the city, I always have to ask about affordable housing,” Govan said. “But it sounds like this is not something that is going to be affordable for our teachers, police officers, regular people who can’t afford to live in our city.”

Martin told Councilors Davenport has a diversity hiring plan for the contractors who will do the construction work.

The apartment building is part of the Ridgewood Historic District that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The city took ownership of the building about a decade ago for non-payment of taxes. It was later sold to a developer along with a block of vacant rowhouses across the street. After redevelopment plans fell through the city regained ownership.

Davenport was the only company that responded earlier this year to the city’s request for development proposals.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.