(This aerial photo is PRE tornado)
Again, leaving aside the issue of gambling itself and its social impacts, there are people who see a Palmer casino as a better economic choice for western Massachusetts because it is being built on a greenfield and is surrounded by undeveloped land which could be utilized for expansion if the project not only succeeds but exceeds expectations in terms of its popularity. These same people point to what they view as a dearth of available developable land in the area around the MGM site and claim that this would limit the economic benefit even a successful urban casino could have on the region’s economy.
It would be difficult to exaggerate how fundamentally ignorant this perspective is. For now I will simply link (here, here, and here) to websites, articles, and papers which demonstrate irrefutably that it is the case that traditional urban design is more efficient economically, fiscally, and in terms of energy use.
On the other hand, for people who understand the fundamentals of sustainable economic activity and of the dynamics of successful cities it is obvious that Springfield’s South End is the perfect place to put a project which has the potential to spin off enormous amounts of economic development specifically because there is so much underutilized developable land within an infrastructure which not only already exists, but which is nowhere near its carrying capacity.
A walking survey of just the area to the south and southeast of the block where the MGM project is proposed circumscribed as narrowly as possible by the most proximate thoroughfares shows that there are literally acres, in urban terms dozens upon dozens of parcels of completely empty space. Keeping in mind that this puts to one side all of the vacant, underutilized, and inappropriately utilized (more on this to come) space in nearly all of the buildings of the entire downtown, I will share photographically and street by street just how much empty space there is.
Willow Street is 100% unbuilt as it runs perpendicularly from Main Street to the east with 2 completely vacant lots and 3 unused parking lots.
William Street has 9 surface parking lots, two of which are completely unused, and 5 vacant lots.
On Margaret Street there are 2 vacant lots and 2 surface parking lots.
Morris Street is almost completely undeveloped with two enormous vacant lots surrounded by hundreds of thousands of dollars of infrastructure going almost completely unused.
To finish, Fremont Street has only 1 vacant lot.
And there it is. Not more than one city block from $800,000,000 of new development, acres of “shovel ready” space with water, sewer, and electric already provided and a city which is crying out for more people in order to function more efficiently as a city.