Mayor Sarno, Congressman Neal, Governor Baker, MassMutual, MGM, and MassHousing officially launch historic $51.3 million Elm Street Redevelopment and Preservation Economic Project

Springfield, MA, Aug 27, 2020,– Mayor Domenic J. Sarno today joined with Congressman Richard E. Neal, Governor Charlie Baker, officials from MassMutual, MGM, and MassHousing, and other project stakeholders to officially launch the historic $51.3 million Elm Street Redevelopment and Preservation Project.

This strategic downtown economic development project is made possible by an unprecedented public-private partnership. This partnership includes the Springfield Redevelopment Authority (SRA) and the City of Springfield who are currently undertaking a $4 million environmental clean-up of potentially hazardous materials from the Elm Street buildings (as their participation in the Project). The partnership includes funding from numerous entities including $5 million from MassMutual, $14.5 million from MassHousing’s Workforce Housing Initiative, and $16 million from MGM, with this funding collectively structured as a loan. The Developer, OPAL/ WinnDevelopment, has also secured approximately $11.3 million in state and federal historic tax credits. They will apply these historic tax credits together with developer equity, a conventional mortgage, and a commitment from the Unions Trades to assist with $500,000 of housing funds to round out the total of $51.3 million of required funding.

The SRA’s and City’s current work is being carried out by City Enterprises, Inc. (a Springfield based business) as the General Contractor, with completion expected by mid-November 2020. They will then transfer the site to OPAL/WINN Development once complete with their environmental remediation and related scopes.

The comprehensive project entails the historic restoration and transformation of the former Court Square Hotel building and the Byers Block (3-7 Elm Street) into 74 new market rate and workforce housing apartments to address the housing needs that exists in Downtown Springfield and the Commonwealth. In addition, to the redevelopment generating additional tax revenues and construction and permanent jobs, the project will also include a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Pioneer Valley Building Trades. The anticipated ground floor retail will assist the City in activating the Downtown streetscape with restaurant, retail and commercial leases.

As the Urban Land Institute (ULI) reported some 15 years ago, the proper redevelopment of 31 Elm St/Court Square property is a critical and vital project that must be addressed, not only to return it to the tax rolls but just as importantly, for the psyche of the city.

Mayor Sarno states, “We never gave up on this project. This is why my administration will continue to be bold and think big. This has been ‘a bear of a project’, but as my city team and I have done with other projects, we have willed it over the goal line. Again, many thanks to the steadfastness and resolve of all the partners who worked so hard on this project. Special thanks to, Congressman Neal, Governor Baker and MassMutual Chairman, President & CEO Roger Crandall for always being outstanding partners to our city and to myself.”

“I am very proud that my administration continues to move forward on this vital economic development project and that we are finally able to restore the historic grandeur of this once stately building. Special thanks goes out to Congressman Richard Neal; Governor Charlie Baker; Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy; MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay; my dedicated City team; SRA Executive Director Chris Moskal and the SRA Board; MassMutual Chairman, President and CEO Roger Crandall; MGM Springfield President and COO Chris Kelley and Michael O’Brien of Opal WinnDevelopment; Peter Picknelly; our City Council, especially Ward 2 City Councilor Attorney Michael Fenton; and our State Delegation, especially Assistant Majority Leader Representative Joseph F. Wagner, for never giving up on this vital economic project,” said Mayor Sarno.

“I am thrilled to see the revitalization of this Elm Street property that has long stood vacant awaiting its second chance, and now that day has come,” said Congressman Neal. “This is a huge undertaking and one that has continued to rely on a strong city, state, and community partnership that is represented here today. Just like the renovation and refurbishment of Springfield Union Station, I am optimistic that the transformation of this space will be successful and I look forward to its opening.”

“Redeveloping this site is now possible thanks to a lot of hard work from several different players and our Administration is grateful everyone is working together to get it done,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This agreement enables the revitalization of this historic property to create more housing and economic opportunity in Springfield, and the Commonwealth is proud to support this transformative effort.”

“MassHousing is pleased to be a partner in the redevelopment of 31 Elm Street in Springfield,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. “MassHousing is committed to supporting new housing production opportunities that house the Commonwealth’s workforce and unlock local economic development. We commend all the partners in this transformative project for their commitment to downtown Springfield’s revitalization.”

“It is exciting to see a redevelopment of this scale in such a critical location in Springfield that will create more housing and unlock increased economic activity,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “While this pandemic has only reinforced the need for more housing, this project will make Springfield an example of how creative funding and strong collaboration among public and private partners can transform a long-vacant property into desperately needed middle-income and market-rate housing, while enlivening the neighborhood with new retail.”

  • The agreement between the city, state, and the developers, reflects an unprecedented collaboration among public and private partners.
  • The Commonwealth recognizes that this project is truly a transformative and generational investment, which has long been a top priority for the City to bring back to life the heart of Court Square and the Downtown.
  • We applaud the Mayor and all of the partners involved who have maintained the vision and commitment to bringing this critically important project to life.
  • This project is complex, and is made possible thanks to this group of extremely committed partners.
  • This step represents a key investment in Springfield’s Court Square Urban Renewal Plan.

MassMutual Chairman, President and CEO Roger Crandall stated, “We are pleased to lend our support to the Court Square redevelopment project and help make this long overdue restoration a reality. Springfield has been our home for nearly 170 years and like MassMutual, this building is part of the city’s rich history. This community investment ensures that it will remain a centerpiece of Springfield, while providing more market rate housing and contributing to our downtown’s ongoing momentum and revitalization.”

MGM Springfield President and COO Chris Kelley added, “This is truly an exciting moment for Springfield as this decades-closed building in the heart of downtown comes back to life. MGM Springfield is proud to be a part of this historic effort that represents another key investment in our local community. It is a credit to all those involved in this public-private partnership. We applaud Mayor Sarno & the Baker/Polito Administration for pushing it over the finish line, and we look forward to welcoming our new neighbors!”

Mr. O’Brien added, “WinnDevelopment is proud to be a partner in this transformational project in downtown Springfield, side by side, and hand in glove with, Peter Picknelly, the State, City, SRA, MGM, MassMutual, MassHousing and Mass Historic. It is a complex and challenging undertaking that has waited 30+ years to happen - and that is a wild understatement. It is underway now due to this diverse partnership, as assembled and lead by Mayor Sarno, and our collective Herculean efforts to get it all to “go time” - once and for all. This same level of dedication and focus will continue for the next two years. We look forward to the ribbon cutting of this renewed, historic gem in 2022.”

“My family and I having been working on this project for decades, I’m proud and thrilled to see this important development for our city finally come to fruition,” said Peter Picknelly.

Peter Picknelly and WinnDevelopment have partnered as the “Preferred Developers” for 13-31 Elm, combining their real estate development strengths and market reach to make this key, strategic project a reality. WinnDevelopment brings decades of expertise revitalizing ‘historic gems in the rough’ such as 3-7 and 13-31 Elm Street and breathing new life into these spaces with exciting, adaptive reuses.

“My family has been pushing to revitalize this building for decades starting with my father in the 1990’s. I believe this building is a critical part of the renaissance of downtown Springfield - turning a blighted, decaying structure into a beautiful, vibrant, and tax-paying historic property. It has been a long, hard journey to say the least. This project would not have happened without the cooperation of the Mayor’s Office, the Governor’s administration, MassHousing, MGM and MassMutual. I look forward to working jointly with WinnDevelopment to restore this great building to its original grandeur - to once again become a centerpiece of downtown Springfield.” Picknelly continued.

City Councilor Fenton added, “Many said this day would never come. Yet in the face of tremendous obstacles, Springfield’s A-Team rolled up their sleeves and got to work. A remarkable public-private partnership emerged. Springfield’s most loyal and preeminent advocates answered the clarion call and they refused to take “no” for an answer. Today we celebrate getting the job done. Court Square will live again and I couldn’t be more proud.”

In July 2020, the Springfield Redevelopment Authority (SRA) and the City of Springfield awarded the first phase of construction contracts for the revitalization of the former 1892 hotel facility located at 13 – 31 Elm Street along the downtown court square. This initial phase of this historic building’s revival includes remediation of hazardous materials and structural renovations throughout the six floors of the building. The general contractor, City Enterprise, Inc. of Springfield, MA, is approximately 25% complete with their $3,000,000 contract. Progress to-date includes the abatement of asbestos containing plaster throughout the building, replacement of deteriorated wood framing, interior masonry repairs and infilling of the 100 year old utility tunnels along Elm Street. All aspects of the work are being performed to preserve the historical character of the building so that they can be a feature in the next phase of the project where the Winn/Opal development team will fully renovate and restore the entire site. As part of the next phase, the street level will be restored for retail and restaurant use while the upper floors will be converted from the original hotel rooms to new one and two housing units. The full project is target to be completed 2022.

Executive Director Chris Moskal and the SRA Board of Directors stated that the SRA has been honored to play a role in the renaissance of this magnificent property. “We would like to thank Mayor Sarno for his years of confidence and assistance towards the rebirth of this historic site and all of our partners for working together to see this key economic development project become a reality,” said Armando Feliciano, Chair of the SRA Board.

“Caolo and Bieniek Associates, Inc. is honored to be the project architects for the initial phase of the restoration and reuse of one of one the City’s significant architectural pieces in the downtown area. As architects, this is an awarding project to restore a true piece of architecture within our own community. Working with the Springfield Redevelopment Authority and the Springfield Capital Asset Construction Department has been a team effort to meet the challenges that come with a historic renovation project,” said Jim Hanifan Principal of Caolo and Bieniek Associates, Inc.