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Developers sought to pitch their plans for reusing three historic office buildings in downtown Springfield

The historic building at the corner of Main and State Streets in Springfield, Massachusetts is one of three mostly-vacant office buildings on the block the city is looking to redevelop.
Springfield Redevelopment Authority
The historic building at the corner of Main and State Streets in Springfield, Massachusetts is one of three mostly-vacant office buildings on the block the city is looking to redevelop.

City is looking to redevelop the Main Street block between the MGM casino and the MassMutual Center

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts is looking for concrete plans to eradicate blight in part of the Metro Center.

The Springfield Redevelopment Authority launched a nationwide search Monday for a qualified developer for three historic office buildings on the Main Street corridor that are situated between two of the city’s biggest destination attractions – the MGM Casino and the MassMutual Center.

As part of the marketing campaign, a six-minute long video has been produced.

The properties are the landmark Masonic Building at the corner of Main and State Streets with its distinctive copper-covered clock tower, the Colonial Block Building on Main Street, and 11-21 Stockbridge Street. The three buildings have a total of 130,000 square-feet of space.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city purchased all three buildings for just under $3 million in 2021 so it could dictate how the properties would be reused.

“ We had to take the bull by the horns,” Sarno said.

Real estate speculation and the COVID-19 pandemic have been blamed by city officials for the lack of development on Main Street across from the casino which opened four-and-a-half years ago and was supposed to provide a catalyst for economic development downtown.

“My dream and my goal is to create a promenade down our South Main Street district into the South End (neighborhood) night and day to experience the Italian-American delicacies that are down there,” Sarno said.

There are two major projects underway in what is now known as the “Main Street and Convention District.” The former Court Square Hotel building on Elm Street is being transformed into apartments and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is building a new parking garage for the MassMutual Center.

The three buildings the city is looking to redevelop are just 10 percent occupied currently, said SRA Executive Director Amanda Pham. The agency is planning to spend about $1 million to make needed repairs to the buildings that Pham said have suffered due to lack of investment.

“But (the buildings) have incredible potential and opportunity, so I think that is the driver here,” Pham said.

The deadline for developers to submit their qualifications and ideas to the SRA is March 24th. The hope is to have a preferred developer for the three buildings picked by the end of this summer, said Tim Sheehan, the city’s chief development official.

“We are very specific that (developers) have to bring forward projects that have a high degree of ground floor activation and then we are looking at adaptive reuse for the upper levels and that could be a combination of many different uses whether it be housing or office or a combination,” Sheehan said.

Before the SRA could market the properties the city undertook some necessary regulatory steps – a master development plan for the area was created and the 50-year old Court Square Urban Renewal Plan was amended.

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.