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Main Street Property Gets Refreshing Facelift

April 13, 2012 : The Republican, Editorial

Before its stunning and practical renovation, the building at 1550 Main St. in Springfield – formerly the local headquarters for federal offices – was lacking what real estate experts call “curb appeal.”

Following the move of federal employees to elegant new headquarters on State Street in the summer of 2008, the old government building – guarded by curbside Jersey barriers since the terrorist attacks on 9/11 – was a dreary and forlorn spot.

Now, thanks to the efforts of city, state and federal officials, downtown’s former “white elephant” is an asset to the cityscape. Besides the physical transformation – a new plaza decorated with grass, trees and plants and interior upgrades including new paint for its soaring light-filled foyer – the building is teeming with workers again. Two floors provide offices for Springfield School Department employees and Baystate Health rents another floor. The 350 employees who check in at 1550 Main each work day are a welcome sight to downtown retailers who cater to the lunchtime crowd.

The property was purchased by MassDevelopment in 2009 for $2.5 million, and the agency invested approximately $3.6 million in renovations. The state also provided a $3 million grant for physical improvements including the public plaza.

The move of School Department workers from its antiquated headquarters on State Street was not without controversy. Some city councilors argued that cheaper space could be found in the city.

We’re pleased that the city persisted with this project, however. U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, noted at last week's celebration, “Development in an urban city is tough under any circumstances.”

As the warmer weather approaches, we expect to see downtown workers pulling up a table and chair on the buildings plaza and enjoying the view.

© Copyright 2012 The Republican.