Mayor Domenic J. Sarno today joined Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito for a tour of Springfield’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) District. The TDI District is a MassDevelopment program designation, which targets redevelopment efforts in the historic commercial center of downtown, Stearns Square.
As part of the tour, the Mayor outlined a series of planned city improvements to the district to complement the efforts of MassDevelopment, the Springfield Business Improvement District, DevelopSpringfield, and the many local property owners and businesses that are participating in the effort.
The city will be making significant improvements to Stearns Square Park, Duryea Way, sidewalks in the area, and has plans for a new low-interest loan program to attract full-service restaurants. This announcement follows the recent announcement of free downtown wi-fi, set to begin rolling out in the coming weeks.
“We’re lucky to have outstanding partners like the Lt. Governor and MassDevelopment in addition to our local partners,” said Mayor Sarno. “The focused approach of the TDI program will really give this district a fresh look in the coming months, and provide another destination along with significant investments happening around it such as Union Station and MGM Springfield.”
“Investing in Stearns Square will help to draw residents to local businesses, driving job creation and economic growth in Springfield,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “The Transformative Development Initiative is successful because it identifies and supports community-driven solutions to local development challenges. Our Economic Development bill will expand the program and build on the success we’ve already seen.”
The Mayor announced the following city efforts in the district:
- Stearns Square Park & Duryea Way: The city will be mobilizing this fall to undertake a complete renovation of historic Stearns Square Park and Duryea Way. This includes new landscaping, trees, pavers, fountain restoration, and park furniture. This park is important to become a centerpiece to establishing a Stearns Square dining district, and important to get completed with the timing of new projects and new visitors to the city.
Duryea Way will become a key gateway for transit passengers connecting the station into this district, and will be revamped with new landscaping and decorative gateway arches leading in and out of the district. The project is expected to go to bid later this summer with work starting in the Fall.
- Widened Sidewalks: The city will be committing $300,000 in CDBG funding to undertake targeted sidewalk widening and traffic calming measures around the park, to make the area more pedestrian friendly and better suited for outdoor dining. This is based on recommendations in the Worthington Street master plan. Sidewalks in front of the Adolfo’s and the Stearns Building (aka former Skyplex) will be the first pilot areas for widened sidewalks.
- Restaurant Loan Fund: The city will formally submit a $1.5 million loan pool application to attract new restaurants to this district. The fund will be capitalized through HUD Section 108 loan funds and will require City Council and HUD approval before it will become available. The fund will target established restauranteurs who are looking to locate in the district, and will offer low interest loans with flexible terms. Subject to approvals, the fund is expected to begin September 1st.
In addition to the city’s effort, DevelopSpringfield is underway on the Springfield Innovation Center, a $4 million investment in the district that will house Valley Venture Mentors and become a hub for innovation in the city. MassDevelopment, in addition to investments in the district in staffing and technical assistance, recently purchased the former Skyplex Building with plans for redevelopment. The Springfield Business Improvement District has also made plans for new restaurant incentives and is rolling out new events including White Lion Wednesdays and a Farmers Market for the summer.
“The partners with TDI have been outstanding, everyone is doing their part,” said Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy. “We’ve also been working closely with the property owners to keep them involved and participating in how to make this a better district; they are a big part of the equation in improving the neighborhood.”
“The Baker-Polito Administration and the City of Springfield have been outstanding partners in our TDI efforts,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. ““We look forward to continuing to work with the Springfield BID and the Springfield TDI District partnership to revitalize Stearns Square, the center of innovation, transit, and housing activity in Springfield’s downtown.”
For more information on the TDI program: http://www.massdevelopment.com/what-we-offer/key-initiatives/gateway-cities/