REPRESENTATIVE NEAL, MAYOR SARNO, SECRETARY BIALECKI, AND MASSDEVELOPMENT CEO CULVER ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP TO REVITALIZE MAIN STREET CORRIDOR
Representative Richard E. Neal, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Gregory Bialecki, and MassDevelopment President/CEO Robert L. Culver today unveiled a new partnership to revitalize a critical component of downtown Springfield made possible by the purchase of 1550 Main Street by MassDevelopment.
Under the agreement, MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s finance and real estate development agency, bought the 150,000 square-foot building from the General Services Administration (GSA) for $2.5 million, renamed it “1550 Main,” and began a multi-million dollar rehabilitation of its interior, façade, and exterior plaza. In July 2008, Governor Deval Patrick awarded a $3 million Growth Districts Initiative Grant for public improvements to the building’s plaza and atrium to create safer and more attractive indoor and outdoor public spaces and to reopen the pedestrian connection between Main Street and Columbus Center. 1550 Main already has lease commitments from the City, GSA, and Baystate Health for 124,000-square-feet of the building’s 128,000 rentable square feet.
MassDevelopment has already started improving the building’s appearance, with new plantings and signs, and will pursue additional renovations that will result in a full-scale rehabilitation and rebranding of the building and plaza. Next door, the City of Springfield will undertake major improvements to the former Asylum nightclub building, aiming to reuse a portion of the building for a police substation and public offices, while clearing the rear of the site for parking and a farmer’s market facility. The overhaul of this building and 1550 Main will together create a more active and comfortable downtown environment.
“I have frequently said that successful economic development takes place one block at a time,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal. “That is the model we are using to help transform the State Street corridor, and that is what we are witnessing on Main Street today. This announcement represents the exciting rebirth of a building in the heart of the city that will bring hundreds of professional people downtown on a daily basis. It gives Main, Worthington, and Bridge Streets a new look and a brighter and more vibrant future. It also establishes a presence for Baystate Health Systems in the central business district, which has been a goal of mine for many years. This investment in Springfield would not have happened without the partnership that exists between the local, state, and federal government. It demonstrates our continued commitment to the revitalization of the city’s downtown while helping to preserve our commercial tax base.”
Prior to the opening of the new U.S. Federal Courthouse on State Street, Representative Neal convened a meeting of city, state, and federal officials to consider possible future uses for the former courthouse complex. Over the next several months, MassDevelopment investigated potential uses, put together a development plan, and worked with the GSA to negotiate a purchase and sale agreement, and with the City, GSA, and Baystate Health to line up leases. When build-out is complete, the city will relocate its school department from outdated space at 195 State Street to two floors in the newly renovated building; GSA will retain most of two floors for several federal agencies; and Baystate Health will open its first offices in downtown Springfield using one floor.
“I'd like to thank Representative Neal, Governor Patrick, Secretary Bialecki, and MassDevelopment CEO Bob Culver for their ongoing commitment to the City of Springfield,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. “Today’s announcement is another piece of the puzzle in helping to rejuvenate our downtown corridor. Allowing the lights to go out at 1550 Main would have had a negative domino effect along the Main Street corridor and this is something my administration has been working hard to change. As the State Street revitalization project continues to move forward, the current school department building becomes a prime real estate property for redevelopment, and an RFP will go out seeking potential developers after the school headquarters’ move has been completed.”
“This partnership is key to delivering long term economic development and job opportunities to the downtown Springfield area,” said Secretary Greg Bialecki. “The rejuvenated federal building will be a tremendous asset to the central business district and the Springfield Growth District.”
“Baystate’s commitment as a tenant in the Federal Building is linked to our charitable mission, which is accomplished through strong partnerships within the community,” commented Mark R. Tolosky, president and CEO of Baystate Health. “The economic health of Springfield is closely linked to the health of the community. By helping the city, we are helping our patients and their families, and our own employees and their families who live and work in and around Springfield.”
“Through this partnership we will accomplish one of the critical policy prescriptions envisioned by the Urban Land Institute during its visit in 2006,” said Culver. “We did not want to see this building mothballed. This $11 million investment in downtown Springfield indicates our confidence in the future of downtown and represents an excellent outcome for all parties involved.”