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Funding announcement kicks-off Elm Street redevelopment project

August 27, 2020
In The News

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Governor Charlie Baker made a stop in Springfield on Thursday to be part of a big announcement about a downtown housing project, decades in the works, now coming to fruition.

The Elm Street project, which includes 3-7 and 13-31 Elm Street, will be transferred to private developers in November.

The result will be market rate housing and retail space.

There are big plans for a building that's sat empty for nearly 30 years.

Everyone from Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, to Governor Baker, to Congressman Richard Neal expressed excitement over this project's launch.

“This is another project that the naysayers said would never get done in the city of Springfield,” Sarno explained.

3-7 and 13-31 Elm Street in Springfield is now primed for a $51.3 million facelift, known as the Elm Street project.

The city is wrapping up an environmental remediation effort at the site, which will be transferred over to the Opal/Winn Development Company in November.

Seventy-four new apartment units coming to the vacant building that an Urban Land Institute study highlighted as a top priority for renovation more than ten years ago.

“Not only for economic development, but for the psyche of the city,” Sarno added.

Baker noted, “When this thing is done and you are going to literally jaw drop when you see what's been accomplished.”

Baker expressed optimism over the project, which is partially funded by MassMutual and MassHousing's workforce development initiative.

MGM Springfield is also pitching in funds, part of an agreement with the city.

“…Living up to their commitment on the market rate housing $16 million investment,” Sarno said.

Western Mass News has learned the whole project is expected to be completed in 2022 and it will also include retail space on the first floor.

The developers said they already have exploratory interest from a local restaurant group - another indication of excitement from the community.

“It will happen due to that unprecedented public-private partnership across government and the corporate sectors,” said Michael O’Brien with Opal/Winn Development.

Neal, who helped preserve historic tax credits to be used on the project, said he's excited to see a once bustling, now empty, but not for long, building back on the tax rolls.

“This was the thriving center of the city's legal community for decades. You could get your hair cut right around the corner, you could get a cup of coffee,” Neal added.

The space at 13-31 Elm Street used to be an 1892 hotel building in the heart of Springfield's downtown.