A new financing plan was announced today to accelerate the redevelopment of Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts
City officials said a proposed addition of $3.2 million in local funds along with a previously announced $4.2 million grant from the state will allow the transit-focused elements of the project to be completed simultaneously with tenant-ready commercial space and additional parking.
"It is a big achievement having all the money that is now needed to get this project done," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.
Sarno said by not doing the project in two phases, as was planned, the construction work will be more cost-effective, and if the commercial space can be rented there will be an immediate source of revenue to subsidize the costs of the transportation operations.
" We are going to have a full build out of Union Station," said Sarno. " Now there will be the intermodal transportation with rail and bus lines and retail and other aspects going on."
The Springfield City Council will be asked Monday to vote to borrow the $3.2 million. The money will be repaid using revenue from MGM as specified in the casino development agreement with the city.
The MGM casino is going to built in the south end of downtown Springfield. The Union Station redevelopment is seen as an economic catalyst in the north end of the city’s central business district. The Union Station project is scheduled to be finished in 2016. The casino is expected to open the following year.
Sarno pointed to the $6 miItllion renovation of a large apartment complex, just blocks from Union Station, as evidence the redevelopment of the historic station into a modern transportation center is already having the desired impact.
The total price tag for the Union Station project is now $75.7 million. The project includes restoring the terminal building and central concourse with new passenger waiting areas, ticket windows and elevators to the track level, a 26-bay bus terminal and 377 space parking garage.
There will be 64,000 square feet of commercial space. Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said he was confident the space would be rented.
"With everything happening in downtown and the growth happening in downtown we think we will be in a very good position from a tenancy point of view."
Kennedy said a consultant will be hired to help identify possible tenants.
" Do we want a Dunkin Donuts or a Starbucks, or a specialty coffee ( seller)?. That is what this person will do for us."
Most of the money for the Union Station project came from the federal government. Congressman Richard Neal has been a driving force to redevelop Union Station going back to when he was mayor of Springfield more than 25 years ago.
Neal was scheduled to attend Friday’s announcement at Springfield City Hall, but he was delayed in Washington.
Earlier in the week, Neal led a delegation of 50 civic and business leaders from greater Springfield on a tour of transit-oriented development in New Haven and Hartford Connecticut.