Right on cue two of the biggest projects I called out in my Promises, Promises post got upgraded in terms of their life support level and appear to be moving forward. MGM got a one month extension from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to get the project “across the goal line”, which was later revealed to consist mostly of convincing the city to throw in $4 million towards clean up and the like. It’s amazing how you can take a building like this through its chain of custody, generally being owned by remarkably well-to-do people, and yet there’s always a lot of hand waiving around deterioration and site clean-up; “Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who”. I can’t imagine the city not kicking in the cash, $4 million of a $50 million project, but I get why it might annoy people.
If that project moves forward then the MGM “safety school”:
Would be turned back to the city for redevelopment. It was announced years ago that this had already happened, but, not surprisingly, MGM is unwilling to let that property go unless the Court Square thing is definitely happening.
The other project moving forward is what was the MassDevelopment building on Stearns Square.
It was announced that it has been turned over to the downtown Business Improvement District to begin a million dollar renovation of the interior for an as yet unnamed tenant. I have absolutely no idea who that might be but given that the whole MassDev concept was to create a dining district and the building is enormous I would imagine we are talking about a huge national chain which is unrepresented in the region or Boston/New York enterprise moving into Springfield. If it is a local establishment only the Picknelly-Yee partnership would seem to have the wherewithal to take on such a giant facility.
On the other hand it could be split in half with a full build out on one side and a speculative refurbishment for another concept being done on the other side.
An announcement regarding another project, the one I referenced at the end of my prior post, muddied the prospects of how and where it might move forward. The Red Lion Inn people had previously committed to building a boutique hotel at the old Paramount Theater in the Massasoit House building, it was then announced that they were moving ahead with talks with MGM on putting another boutique hotel on the old Mass Mutual building now owned by MGM.
Initial reports stated that it was not unusual for a hotel management group to run two properties in one city, but later reports implied that the project might be “moving”.
The most exciting news related to the Mass Mutual building announcement was that the local cable access team would move from their ground floor location at the corner of State and Main to the otherwise semi-abandoned CityStage property which might well leverage improvements which could once again make that venue viable for concerts and such not big enough for Symphony Hall and the MassMutual arena.
I’d be more excited about all of this if it weren’t for what seems to me like the specter of an approaching recession which I can’t help but believe would make 2008 look like the 1950’s. To me the world economy, much like the supply chains of world manufacturing, are efficient but not resilient; when you add to that a federal budget running a trillion dollars in the red during what is being called a boom period with a surging stock market and low unemployment and I can’t help but think that a downturn will be confronted with very little “dry powder” and no tools left in the tool box to turn things around.
Mixed metaphors aside, having asked questions in my blog about these projects so recently I would be remiss not to mention that there appears to be progress being made. Let’s hope they’re not undertaken to the strains of Songe d’Atomne.