MassDevelopment Buys Springfield Building, Establishes Partnership With Local Business Improvement District

November 2, 2015


Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077

Making the first TDI Investment through the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) program, which seeks to spur economic-development in Gateway Cities, MassDevelopment has purchased the former Skyplex building at 8-12 Stearns Square in downtown Springfield and established a partnership with the Springfield Business Improvement District to further revitalize the district. The building sits at the heart of Springfield’s TDI District, an area undergoing significant public and private investment as the City’s dining and innovation district. This revitalization will benefit from the progress of nearby investments including the new Union Station. 

“We appreciate MassDevelopment’s continued commitment to Springfield,” said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. “MassDevelopment has done great work in our city and the focused approach of the Transformative Development Initiative district is one that we are very excited about. This is a key property to the future of Stearns Square and we look forward to our continued work with the partnership to ensure the success of this property and the entire district.”

Under the agreement, MassDevelopment bought the building for $600,000, and the Springfield BID will invest in enhanced programming and promotion for the District.  Additionally, the City of Springfield is working to advance upgrades to Stearns Square Park. The TDI Partnership (consisting of the City, Develop Springfield, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, and the BID) supports increased programming in the Square and the surrounding area. MassDevelopment expects to recruit compatible uses for the building that align with the TDI Partnership’s shared goal for a revived Springfield Dining District.  The redevelopment planning of the building will start immediately, and the TDI Partnership is already working on a retail/commercial market implementation strategy under the TDI Technical Assistance program.  Laura Masulis, the district’s TDI Fellow, is working closely with the Partnership to advance the implementation of this strategy.

“We are not just buying a building – we are building a district,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We look forward to working with the Springfield BID and the Springfield TDI District partnership to continue to revitalize Stearns Square, the center of innovation, transit, and housing activity in Springfield’s downtown.” 

“The BID’s Board of Directors is very pleased with Mass Development continuing its investment in downtown Springfield by purchasing the Skyplex block in the Stearns Square Dining District,” said Skip Lessard, chair of the Springfield Business Improvement District (SBID) Board of Directors. “The SBID and MassDevelopment worked together to secure ownership of the site and will work together to bring the block and the District up to its full potential as a dining destination. Our relationship with MassDevelopment has been excellent and has created some wonderful synergy that we are confident will yield positive results.”

MassDevelopment plans to make repairs, recruit tenants, and explore further capital improvements. The facility will have up to three leasable spaces, and potential business opportunities including pop-up retail or cafés. The Springfield TDI District is home to 1550 Main Street, which MassDevelopment purchased in 2009 and has redeveloped for public and private tenants, along with SilverBrick Lofts, Valley Venture Mentors, the Springfield Innovation Center, and Union Station, and a variety of legendary restaurants that anchored the original dining district. 

Through the TDI Investment program, MassDevelopment will invest in projects that will have significant economic and district impacts; are consistent with Commonwealth and Agency priorities; engage and build capacity in local communities and partners; catalyze market demand and support district goals; are near-term projects; and lack other sufficient funding sources to proceed. The Agency is reviewing numerous projects identified by the TDI partnerships in the 10 TDI Districts in Development and is currently pursuing multiple projects for the initial tranche of limited pilot funding.  

“We are thrilled with MassDevelopment’s acquisition of the former Skyplex building on the Stearns Square and greatly appreciate their continued commitment to advancing the goals of the TDI District,” said Develop Springfield President and CEO Jay Minkarah. “Rehabilitation of the Skyplex will build upon the investments we are making right around the corner at the Springfield Innovation Center on Bridge Street, and will go a long way toward attracting exactly the mix of businesses envisioned in the 2014 Worthington Street Area Plan adopted for this critical section of downtown Springfield.”  

“As an owner and day-to-day Manager of Theodore’s and Smiths Billiards, I am extremely excited to hear of the recent purchase of the building on Stearns Square by MassDevelopment,” said Theodore’s owner Keith Weppler. “We look forward to collaborations and partnerships to revitalize the Stearns Square area. With recent investments in market rate housing, the development of The Springfield Cultural District, a dinning district is an integral part of the long term viability of The Stearns Square area.”

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2015, MassDevelopment financed or managed 294 projects generating investment of more than $2.5 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create about 6,100 jobs and build or rehabilitate about 2,000 residential units.