As more people travel through Springfield’s Union Station by train and bus, officials are working to sign more tenants in the historic building.
A conference center has opened on the second floor of Union Station. Featuring a table, chairs, communication infrastructure, and a 93-inch video screen, the 950-square-foot room can comfortably hold 50 people.
Mayor Domenic Sarno said the conference room is available for Union Station tenants and community groups to use for free and can be rented by outside businesses for $75 for a half day.
"What we want to do is make sure we opened this up for the community," said Sarno.
The conference room has already been booked for future meetings of the North End neighborhood’s community police initiative.
The room is being used in marketing by the Springfield Redevelopment Authority as the agency attempts to lease the available retail and office space in Union Station.
"This is a nice amenity not only for Union Station, but for the city of Springfield as we continue to promote Union Station," said Sarno.
Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said 72 percent of the available space in the building is currently occupied.
" Business is brisk here at Union Station, that is for sure," said Kennedy.
Most of the tenants are in the transportation business including the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Amtrak, and CTrail. There is a Dunkin Donuts, Subway restaurant, a convenience store and a car rental office.
SRA Executive Director Chris Moskal said about 7,000 square feet of retail space is available on the first floor and five offices are for rent on the second floor and mezzanine level.
"We are constantly out there showing the building, pushing the building and trying to let the public know a lot of the advantages of being here," said Moskal.
Originally built in 1926, Union Station was closed and abandoned in the 1970s. It reopened in 2017 after a $95 million restoration spearheaded by Democratic Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield.
The transportation center is used by an estimated 3 million people a year. Two thousand riders a day are using commuter trains on the new Hartford Line that debuted last June. A pilot program of rush hour trains between Greenfield and Springfield is expected to start this summer. The station has been a catalyst for a feasibility study into high-speed east-west passenger rail in Massachusetts.
The renovation of Union Station is not quite finished. An elevated train platform that will comply with accessibility requirements for the disabled is under construction. The $8 million project should be finished this spring.