SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – MGM Springfield is making some changes to its plan for an $800 million resort casino in downtown Springfield. Tuesday, the resort company publicly announced plans to move the proposed 250 hotel rooms out of their proposed 25-story glass tower at 73 State Street, to a new six-story site at Main and Howard Streets, which was initially supposed to house 54 units of market-rate housing.
That housing will now be relocated elsewhere in the downtown area, and MGM is looking for a developer to work with on that. The hotel will be on the upper five stories of the six-story building, with the ground level being dedicated to retail space.
The change in the plans comes following negotiations between MGM, the Springfield Historical Commission, and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. According to a news release sent to 22News by Jim Leydon, spokesperson for Mayor Domenic Sarno, the change in plans will not change the overall cost of the casino project, and may in fact cause the project to exceed the $800 million estimate. “Construction costs are going up all over the Northeast, especially here in Massachusetts. That’s part of it, but they also know they have to build a very good casino from a competitive point of view,” City Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy told 22News when asked about the cost increase.
In the place of the hotel tower, MGM is proposing to build an “inviting, trendy gathering space” for local and national food and beverage vendors at 73 State Street. The space, which will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, is being tentatively labeled “the South End Market.”
In a statement sent to 22News, MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said that the plan for having the hotel in the low-rise structure, rather than the 25-story glass tower, fits in better with MGM’s vision for their downtown site.
“We have never lost sight of how important it is to integrate our development and its unique design needs with this historic New England downtown. We think the changes along Main Street and this new layout is more in line with a true downtown mixed-use development that will make MGM Springfield the premier urban resort in the industry,” Mathis said.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, city leaders said that they received word about the changes from MGM about 10 days ago, and on Monday received renderings of the revised proposal. Mayor Sarno told 22News that he was skeptical of the tower’s removal at first, but says he now thinks the design will fit in better with the architecture of the city, and will help make the downtown more walkable. “”Some of the other places you look at are in the woods, but here, this is an urban first of its kind blending and assimilating with the historic nature, architectural aspects of New England and Springfield,” Sarno continued.
He said that even without the tower, MGM will still be competitive with Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and a potential third Connecticut casino.
MGM Springfield is expected to open in September 2018.