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1550 Main Street, Springfield

1550 Main Street, SpringfieldProject Background
This $11 million rehabilitation of a prominent building and public plaza in downtown Springfield is an important component of MassDevelopment’s partnership with the City of Springfield to spur the City’s economy. MassDevelopment’s municipal real estate services staff helped facilitate a national panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in September 2006 to create a strategy for the revitalization of Springfield. The adaptive re-use of the former federal office building at 1550 Main Street was a key recommendation of ULI’s strategy to revitalize the downtown area and “secure its place as a vibrant urban center and cultural hub for the region” that “will, in turn, be a vital support for the livelihood of the city’s neighborhoods.” With a new federal courthouse under development nearby and because 1550 Main Street would require a major investment to reposition and local office demand was weak, some feared that once the new facility opened, this building would ‘go dark’, which would have had a devastating impact on the Main Street corridor.

In early 2007, MassDevelopment engaged a team of consulting architects and engineers to develop a rehabilitation and reuse plan. The architects looked at a variety of potential new uses, from a police headquarters to higher education to private office, as well as ways to improve the public plaza and building entrances. The engineers developed a detailed 10-year program of repairs and replacements ranging from elevators and HVAC systems to structural repairs. Ultimately, MassDevelopment and the City decided that redevelopment for office space including a mix of private and public office tenants would be the best use for the facility.

MassDevelopment, working together with the City, the Commonwealth, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. Representative Neal, and Baystate Medical Center, structured a purchase and pre-leasing of the building that included leases with the City to house the Springfield School Department, the GSA for some existing federal tenants, and with Baystate Medical Center to bring some support staff into downtown for the first time.

Rehabilitation Project
MassDevelopment purchased the property in September 2009, renamed the building 1550 Main, and undertook a comprehensive rehabilitation project to improve the building’s public spaces and circulation, and generate new jobs in downtown Springfield. Much of the work is interior and exterior structural and systems repairs and modernizations. In addition, tenants are spending several million dollars to rehabilitate their own spaces.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provided a $3 million Growth Districts Initiative Grant, secured with the help of the City of Springfield. These funds are being used for improvements to the public plaza, building entrance, and atrium. The jersey barriers that surrounded the property for years were removed in the fall of 2009. The high planter walls that blocked views from the street into the plaza came down in the spring of 2010, making way for the new landscaping. A new building entrance provides a welcoming invitation to the public atrium, which is once again open to the public. Public circulation has been restored to the City Stage Theater and the Columbus Center parking garage in the rear of the building. In the future, potential exists for ground floor café and retail spaces that would further activate the atrium and plaza.

Key Statistics

  • September 29, 2009: MassDevelopment purchases the property
  • 130,000 total rentable square feet
  • 103 space below-grade parking garage
  • 57,000 RSF leased to Springfield School Department on 2nd and 3rd floors
  • June 2010: Springfield School Department moves in
  • 30,000 RSF leased to Baystate Health on the 5th floor
  • 36,000 RSF leased to General Services Administration, existing tenants consolidated on 1st and 4th floors

$11 Million Purchase and Rehabilitation Project
Some key aspects of the construction project include:

  • Plaza reconstruction with plantings and seating areas
  • New entrances, lighting, and signs
  • Lobby/atrium renovations
  • Modernization/replacement of all four elevators
  • Upgrades to all of the building’s restrooms
  • Exterior/building envelope repairs
  • Significant renovation to tenant space on 2nd, 3rd, and 5th floors

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