| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – There has been no apparent activity at the former School Department headquarters since last year when MGM Springfield announced it would purchase the building as a location for 30 to 35 of its 50-plus apartments that are part of the casino project.
All the changes that can be seen are the metal studs erected on the first floor by the previous developer to form the walls for apartments.
According to both officials from MGM and the city of Springfield looks can be deceiving – MGM now owns the building.
Alicia Malone, a spokesperson for MGM, told Reminder Publications, “MGM Springfield took ownership of the State Street property several months ago. In regards to the residential units, we don’t have much to disclose at this point in time other than to say that conversations are ongoing and timing is still to be determined.”
MGM’s interest in the historic insurance company building that served as the offices of the School Department for decades was first announced at a press conference on Oct. 5, 2015.
The removal of the market rate apartments was part of a major revision of the casino project that also including replacing the glass and steel tower hotel. At the time, the reason for relocating the apartments was cited that with construction costs they would carry rents that would be too expensive for the local market.
Kevin Kennedy, the city’s chief development officer, said there have been “many discussions” about the location of the other 20 or so apartments and predicted that part of the project would “move forward soon.”
He said the deed to the State Street property had a clause that requires MGM to complete the apartments there within 18 months.