Holyoke, Springfield businesses receive grants for commercial space renovations

September 18, 2023 : WWLP, Nick DeGray

MassDevelopment announced Monday more than $2.2 million in grants will be awarded to properties in Gateway Cities across the state to be used for renovations.

Nine organizations in Holyoke, Springfield and Pittsfield will receive grants for renovations on commercial building projects such as making room for indoor dining, provide retail space, storefronts and more.

“For generations, Gateway Cities have been welcoming places to live, start a business, and build community,” said Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative allows the state to work hand-in-hand with local partners to ensure these cities remain places of opportunity for all and we are proud these TDI Equity Investment grants support that goal.”

The following organizations will receive grants:

The ARTery in Holyoke – $38,550 – Repair an elevator in their building at 289 High St. to make the upper floors accessible, usable, and ADA compliant. This will enable the project to expand within the building to provide studio, retail, and conference space to artists at an affordable price. This grant is funded by the Barr Foundation.

Holyoke Real Estate, LLC in Holyoke – $50,000 – Help the BIPOC majority owners of 642-646 High St., a one-story, highly visible set of storefronts, improve and further activate the property. The project will include building out a new restaurant in a vacant storefront, as well as refreshing the entire building’s façade and signage.

Paper City Fabrics in Holyoke – $47,450 – Support the build-out of its sewing school and retail space at 330 High St. to grow a new community of makers in the district. Renovations will include new systems and finishes, plus restoration of the original mosaic tile floor and carpentry. This grant is funded by the Barr Foundation.

Love Art Collective Inc. in Springfield – $97,000 – Help the organization buy and convert a retail service property into Block Art Studio, a Black-owned and -operated art center focused on neighborhood youth and entrepreneurs. The new facility will feature gallery space, youth enrichment programs, career training, community events, and crossover events with other local cultural institutions. This grant is funded by the Barr Foundation.

HB & B Corporation (d.b.a. Panache Banquet Hall) in Springfield – $250,000 – Advance a full renovation of its community space in Mason Square. The renovation plan includes building a large commercial kitchen; upgrading the stage, dressing rooms, audio, and light system; adding an additional kitchen for the tenant restaurant; enlarging the facility; and renovating bathrooms. This grant is funded by the Barr Foundation.

Marie’s Eatery Pittsfield LLC (d.b.a. Marie’s North Street Eatery & Gallery) in Pittsfield – $31,000 – Renovate the interior of its existing space, which long housed Marie’s European Delights, to offer sit-down dining and affordable grab-and-go options to cater to the city’s downtown lunch crowd.

Remedy & Culture LLC in Pittsfield – $28,000 – Help the company make interior renovations to an 860-square-foot vacant storefront at 90 North St. in the Central Block. The renovated property will feature a wellness retail shop, yoga and meditation classroom, and private treatment room.

Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds Inc. in Pittsfield – $179,000 – Purchase the iconic King Kone soft serve ice cream shop at 133 Fenn St. and convert it into a worker cooperative. The nonprofit incubator will also expand its current arts programming through the creation of a community art gallery and exhibition space in the adjacent retail space in the same building. This grant is funded by the Barr Foundation.

Y Not Bar and Lounge, LLC (d.b.a. Methuselah Bar and Lounge) in Pittsfield – $120,000 – Help the company expand into an adjacent space to allow for increased dining capacity and the ability to host events, including those connected to the Latinx and LGBTQ communities. Specifically, this grant will help fund the installation of a required fire suppression system for the entire building to facilitate the expansion.

The grants are part of MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Equity Investment program, which also received $1 million from the Barr Foundation to increase the number of projects eligible to receive funding, especially those focused on cultural and creative economies.

“We are awarding $2.2 million to support a diverse group of Gateway City business owners, entrepreneurs, and community leaders who are committed to strengthening our downtowns and commercial districts,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “These projects will bring new life to highly visible properties, helping draw in new patrons, advance business growth and entrepreneurship, and improve the vibrancy of neighborhoods. We are grateful to the Barr Foundation, whose support has made many of these projects possible.”

Gateway Cities are considered small to midsized cities with a population between 35,000 and 250,000 that are anchors to the region’s economy with below-state-average household incomes and educational attainment rates. In Massachusetts, there are 26 Gateway Cities which include Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Westfield and Pittsfield.