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Downtown renewal project becomes reality upon approval

Aug. 9, 2013
By Carley Dangona


WESTFIELD – The Elm Street Urban Renewal Plan (URP) is making the transition from conceptual planning into formal implementation, after receiving a green light from the state.

City Advancement Officer Jeff Daley received word that the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) approved the URP at the end of July.

“It’s a proud day in Westfield, a great day for the city,” Daley said.

Within the next week, Daley will choose a consultant for the plan. He said that the predevelopment portion of the work would start in the upcoming weeks. The URP site is a block bordered by Elm Street, Arnold Street, the Summer Street extension and Church Street.

Daley plans to complete the requests for proposals and put them out for bid by the end of 2013. He anticipated the city would celebrate a ground breaking for the project next spring, with construction completed by the fall of 2015.

“We’re building a complex for the future of Westfield,” he said.

The conceptual design of the URP includes a six-story, 130,000 square-foot commercial building; a 1,800 square-foot, one-story Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) shelter; and a 500-space parking garage. The commercial building would have available retail space on the main floor while subsequent floors would offer office space. The top floor could possibly offer residential space.

Daley is currently working on the financial plan for the parking garage.

The DHCD approval means that he can now apply for $600,000 in state funds specifically earmarked for these types of structures. Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act funds totaling $1.7 million are already available to build the commercial structure.

“Each part has an important role to play in the community. In the last ten years, a countless number of citizens have provided their input on the project. And, it has the support of the City Council,” Daley said.

He added that the goal of the “well-rounded project” is to complement the businesses that already exist downtown. He thinks the current tenants will be inspired to invest in their businesses in response to the URP.

Based upon the HDR Architecture Inc. design is estimated cost is between $25 million and $50 million, depending upon the size of the project.

The PVTA will use toll revenues to pay for its multi-modal transportation hub.

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