With the blessing of Massachusetts casino regulators, MGM can now fulfill a long overdue obligation to develop housing in downtown Springfield.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to ratify a proposal by MGM to invest $16 million in a major redevelopment project as the means to satisfy a casino licensing requirement to develop housing near its downtown casino.
MGM is to play a key part in the financing for the $52 million historic restoration and redevelopment of the former Court Square Hotel building into 74 residential apartments with ground floor space for retail. The building which takes up a city block on Elm Street is practically a neighbor of MGM’s $960 million resort casino complex.
After the unanimous vote at a meeting Thursday in Springfield, Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein praised MGM, the city, the state and the private developers who worked for months to put the complicated deal together.
"It is a testament to the strength of collaboration, innovation, and this case true vision," said Judd-Stein. "We are excited to be a part of it."
Gaming Commissioner Bruce Stebbins, who once worked in Springfield’s economic development office, said the vote marks a big milestone for the city.
"That building has sat boarded-up, a home for rodents and vermin and a lot of water for almost the past 30 years," said Stebbins.
Mayor Domenic Sarno thanked the commission for supporting the project, which he called “a lynchpin” for additional economic spinoff and job creation.
"This was a project that we never gave up on and speaks to the transformative aspect of an MGM --world renowned MGM-- being here," said Sarno.
Earlier in the week, the Springfield City Council voted to amend the host community agreement with MGM to allow the investment in the Court Square work to satisfy the housing development obligation.
The council also voted to authorize $4 million in city funds for the project.
The project is being led by Opal Real Estate of Springfield and WinnCompanies of Boston.
Construction is expected to start in the fall and take up to two years to complete.