Mayor Domenic Sarno explains the vision for the Main Street Convention District during an update on the master plan at the MassMutual Center.
Reminder Publishing photo by Chris Maza

SPRINGFIELD — On the other side of Main Street and around the corner on State Street last week were visible signs of the progress in the continued efforts for Springfield’s downtown corridor outlined by the city at a presentation at the MassMutual Center

Heavy machinery could be heard hard at work on first phase of the ongoing Court Square area revitalization efforts on April 22 as Mayor Domenic Sarno, Chief Development Officer Tim Sheehan, Springfield Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Amanda Pham and other stakeholders provided an update on the Main Street Convention District Master Plan.

The following day, many of the same officials gathered to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the 31 Elm St. apartments. While not directly related to the master plan, that residential development was cited as a key cog in the continued transformation of the area surrounding the intersection of State and Main streets.

A major part of the plan focuses on the redevelopment of three parcels to the south of the intersection — the Clocktower Building at 113 State St. and 1163 Main St., the Colonial Block on Main Street and the Stockbridge Building at 11-21 Stockbridge St. All three parcels are located across the street from the MGM Springfield casino complex and, are under SRA control, having been acquired by the city, according to Sarno, after years of poor management.

McCaffery Interests Inc. President Edward Woodbury detailed plans to create ground-level retail with housing on the floors above at both the Clocktower Building and Colonial Block, adding approximately 100 living units of varying size. Sheehan described the businesses on the ground floor as “curated” retail and commercial. The Stockbridge Building would house a lobby and amenities and services for the apartments, including the leasing office, mail room and fitness center. Stockbridge Street would be made into a pedestrian-friendly way and the rooftop of the Stockbridge Building would be “activated” for use, Woodbury added.

Woodbury anticipated construction would begin in the third quarter of 2025 with the finished result coming sometime near the end of 2026. He said financing for the project would involve public and private interests. City officials explained Springfield would be pursuing a federal historic district designation extending down Main Street to the corner of Union Street and up State Street to the Maple Street intersection. This designation would allow the city to access more than $11.5 million in state and federal historic tax credits necessary to complete the development.

Sheehan also noted in the presentation that the city is aware of the current struggles with surface-level parking and to address additional vehicles, plans include the construction of a 300 vehicle garage on the corner of Stockbridge and Willow streets.

The current work on Court Square, which already has its own historic district, is the first part of the first phase of planned improvements to the area’s “public realm,” Pham explained. That work is expected to be completed this summer. The second portion of phase 1 involves improvements to the Main Street and Court Street corridors. Phase 2 is a broader project involving Main, State, Willow and Cross streets that involves augmentations to the roadways, streetscapes, lighting and landscaping. Mitigation grant funding through the Massachusetts Gaming Commission would be utilized to fund the improvements.

At the MassMutual Center, the new parking structure, which would accommodate 800 vehicles, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Additionally, a permanent State Street entrance will be built; currently, the arena has a temporary entrance via a back staircase. John Donahue of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and Sean Dolan, general manager of the MassMutual Center, stressed the arena’s importance to the area’s vitality, noting the $1.1 million in direct impact realized by the recent NCAA Division 1 hockey tournament regional, record sell-out streak by the Springfield Thunderbirds, Red Sox Weekend, Paw Patrol and Disney on Ice shows, and internationally known acts such as Bruno Mars last year and Maroon 5, coming this July.

In addition to the parking structure, plans call for ground-level retail on Bruce Landon Way as well as a 20,000-square-foot multi-purpose outdoor space that Sarno likened to Fenway Park’s Lansdowne Street on Boston Red Sox game days. That is expected to be complete in spring 2025.

At the 31 Elm apartments ribbon-cutting ceremony, local, state and federal officials lauded the cooperation of several private and public stakeholders in revitalizing a building that had been in a state of disrepair for three decades. A partnership that included local businessman Peter Picknelly’s Opal Real Estate Group, WinnDevelopment, MGM Springfield and the support of former Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito pushed the $55 million project to completion, resulting in 74 market rate housing units in the heart of the city’s downtown. It was noted that the building was at full capacity as of the ceremony, with all of the units leased out within 45 days of becoming available.

Along with the new housing, the historic building will also feature a 250-seat restaurant facing Court Square, once work on the park is completed. The establishment will be run locally by the Yee Family, owners of Bean Restaurant Group, which manages The Student Prince in the city and several other restaurants in the region.

Sarno noted there has been interest especially from older adults and “empty nesters” to downsize and relocate to areas where amenities were easily obtained. The new apartment complex, along with the city’s other plans, are all focused on shifting Springfield’s downtown to meet that need, he explained.