Sarno: Union Station already generating interest in downtown

Project scheduled to be completed in summer of 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said that the project to refurbish Union Station will honor the city’s past, and provide a way forward for Springfield. Speaking at a news conference at Springfield City Hall Friday, Sarno said that the multi-million dollar project is a “full-build” that is being done on an accelerated pace. He says the planned transportation center has already increased excitement about investing in downtown Springfield. The mayor cited the renovations on the nearby Morgan Square Apartments by New York-based SilverBrick as evidence that there is a new interest in the city’s commercial center.

Last week, crews began tearing down the walls of the baggage building adjacent to the terminal; a project key to the relocation of the Springfield bus terminal at Union Station. Once the debris is removed, work can begin on a 255-car parking garage. Additional work on the first phase of the project will include restoring the passenger tunnel between the terminal building and the boarding platform on Lyman Street.

In the second phase of the project, even more parking spaces will also be added, to create a total of 377 new parking spaces for the station. Also during Phase II, the upper floors of the terminal will be refurbished into commercial space.

Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said Friday that he is confident that they will be able to get the tenants needed to achieve full occupancy. “When we look at union station and what are we going to do about it, we need to take that bold step to take advantage of the efficiencies of a full build. it is less expensive to do a full build now than it would be to do a piece meal project over time”

But the planned opening of the station in 2016 is not where city leaders’ ambitions end. Sarno said that it is crucial to the city’s economic development that east-west rail service is improved, providing faster access to Boston. He said that this is something he will work with Governor-elect Charlie Baker to press the issue.

Springfield’s Union Station has been vacant since passenger service ended there in the early 1970s.

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