Dormant Chicopee Library space receiving revitalization

August 9, 2022 : The Reminder, by Matt Conway

CHICOPEE – The old Chicopee Library space on 31 Springfield St. remained dormant over the last decade in Chicopee Center. The city is now moving forward with a plan to transform the space into a business incubator.

The revitalization effort gained initial steam in December 2021. State Rep. Joseph Wagner secured a $125,000 grant as a part of the 2021 MassDevelopment Underutilized Property Program grant, while the City Council approved $225,000 in city appropriations during their Dec. 21 meeting. The project also received $50,000 from the Community Development Block Grant.

“With our sights set on moving forward from the [coronavirus] pandemic, we have been trying to utilize resources in ways that would have the greatest impact,” said Wagner in a December interview with Reminder Publishing.

The building will embrace a new community role after the Chicopee Public Library left the decaying space and moved to their 449 Front St. home in 2004.

With some funding resources secured, Mayor John Vieau and Planning Director Lee Pouliot discussed their vision for the location as a multi-functional entrepreneurial space that provides resources for new business owners and promotes businesses already established in Chicopee.

“It’s been sitting dormant for far too long. We want people to experience what downtown Chicopee has to offer,” said Vieau in an interview with Reminder Publishing. The mayor envisions the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce and the Chicopee Cultural Council working closely within the space to aid businesses with a variety of backgrounds.

Pouliot described the proposed incubator as an “ever-evolving space” that will welcome test concepts from businesses and a few permeant vendors. He said several changes will be made to the space, including the addition of American Disability Act accommodations and a potential change to the building’s interior brick wall design.

“The space will grow as we start ramping up the building,” said Pouliot.

The city is steadily progressing on the project. Vieau shared that his team submitted for a $1 million in state grants earlier this year and expect to receive an answer by late-August or early-September. The total cost for the project is expected to be $6 million, with the city also utilizing $3.5 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding as a financial resource.

Pouliot said that 25 percent of the schematic design is currently complete. The mayor and planning director both aspire for the project to provide an infusion of economic opportunities for the revitalizing downtown Chicopee area.

“It’s a central part of the downtown renaissance,” said Vieau.