MGM will develop Court Square building for housing

March 16, 2017 | G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis confirmed the location of the market rate apartments that are part of the Host Community Agreement would be at 31 Elm St., also known as the Court Square building during break at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting on March 2.

Kevin Kennedy, the city’s Chief Development Office, told Reminder Publications city officials “are hoping to incorporate MGM’s commitment with a complete         Kennedy said an initial business agreement between the parties involved has been reached but a formal contract is still under negotiation.

The building is under the control of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority who named Opal Real Estate Group as the preferred developers. Peter Picknelly, chairman of Peter Pan Bus lines Inc, heads Opal.

MGM owns the former School Department building at the corner of State and Maple streets and had identified it as the location for 30 of the promised 54 apartments.

Mathis said developing that building is “something to look at,” but did not make any further statements.

Kennedy could not say at this time what the future of the building would be. In October 2015, MGM announced it would locate 30 of the apartments in the building. Since then there have been some securing and cleanup of the property.

In an amendment to the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) concerning the building at 195 State St. dated March 28, 2016, “The parties acknowledge that the Redeveloper and Blue Tarp Development LLC (‘Blue Tarp’) are pursuing other residential projects within the downtown Springfield area in pursuant to Blue Tarp’s obligations set forth in a certain Host Community Agreement with the City of Springfield, dated May 14, 2013 (the ‘HCA’). The Parties acknowledge that in the event the Redeveloper and Blue Tarp develop additional downtown Springfield properties satisfying Blue Tarp’s HCA obligations relating to residential units Redeveloper may reconvey the Property to the City pursuitant to Section 709 (b) of the LDA in full satisfaction of its obligations under the LDA.”

The “Redeveloper” is MGM Springfield LLC, while Blue Tarp LLC is a company owned by MGM Resorts International, Paul Picknelly, Francis Cataldo Jr. and Thomas Murphy.

During the meeting with the commissioners, Mathis and other member so the MGM Springfield staff updated the body on the progress made so far in the construction and development of the casino.

Mathis said the company has been selected to manage the MassMutual center and will take over the operations of the building on July 1.

MGM has committed to the GameSense, a program that encourages responsible gambling and was praised by Commission Chair Stephen Crosby who described MGM’s commitment as “the first in the nation.”

Mathis, who noted he now has a countdown clock in his office ticking off the time to the 2018 opening, said discussions with vendors are ongoing as marketing plans.

MGM was also praised for meeting and exceeding requirements for the employment of minorities, woman and veterans.

Crosby said, “These are not trivial numbers. The work force numbers are really amazing,” Crosby said.

Mathis said in a press availability during the meeting’s lunch break the company would be doing the bulk of its hiring 60 to 90 days before the opening in September 2018.

When questioned about the potential competition from a proposed third casino in Connecticut, Mathis said a separate team from MGM was watching that developing and responding to it.

He also said the company has learned lessons from its opening of its National Harbor casino in Maryland late last year. Although they are “very different products,” Mathis said the experience has given MGM officials the opportunity to discuss visitor and traffic fluctuation as it may apply to Springfield as well as the importance of rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft.

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