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Commercial Real Estate

Making a Big Splash

This rendering shows the many components of the planned $650 million resort and water park in Palmer.

This rendering shows the many components of the planned $650 million resort and water park in Palmer.

More than five years after Palmer residents rejected a casino proposal for a huge tract of land just off Turnpike exit 8, the property is back in the news, this time as the planned site of a $650 million water park, resort spa, and sports complex.

It’s the most basic tenet in commercial real estate.

Location, location, location.

Since the Massachusetts Turnpike opened in 1957, the large tract of land sitting atop the hill overlooking the exit 8 ramp in Palmer has always possessed that coveted quality. But over the ensuing 60-plus years, little has been done to capitalize on it.

Indeed, among the more than 20 exits on the Pike, exit 8 is arguably the least developed. There’s a small gas station and attached convenience store just off the exit ramp, but one has to go a half mile left or right to find much commercial development, and even then there isn’t much.

Still, Northeast Development saw the enormous potential in the property more than 20 years ago, and first obtained an option on more than 200 acres owned by the late John Lizak — who owned several properties within the town — and later acquired it outright soon after casino-gambling legislation was passed in the Commonwealth.

An opportunity to place a casino, proposed by the owners of Mohegan Sun, at the site went by the boards in 2013, when Palmer residents rejected a casino referendum, but now the property is the focus of another high-profile initiative — one on almost the same scale as the MGM casino eventually placed in the South End of Springfield.

“I remember being at a meeting with them and hearing them say, ‘this is a hot idea — irrespective of the casino, water parks are hot commodities if they’re done right.’”

And, ironically, it’s a concept that actually became part of the rejected casino proposal — a water park.

Or a water park on a much, much larger scale, to be more specific. This would be a $650 million water park resort and spa, featuring everything from a man-made tubing river (if constructed as planned, it would be the longest in the country) to batting cages to athletic fields.

“As the casino competition started heating up, everyone was putting something new into what they were doing,” said Paul Robbins, president of Paul Robbins Assoc., a Wilbraham-based marketing and public-relations firm and spokesperson for the Palmer Sports Group. His firm has also represented Northeast Development for many years. “Doug Flutie was going to be part of Ameristar [one of the casinos proposed for Springfield], and MGM was touting its entertainment. That’s also when Mohegan introduced the concept of a water park.

“And I remember being at a meeting with them, and hearing them say, ‘this is a hot idea — irrespective of the casino, water parks are hot commodities if they’re done right.’”

Those at Palmer Sports Group obviously feel the same way.

Led by Winthop ‘Trip’ Knox, who has been involved with the design and construction of more than 3,000 water-related facilities for water parks, resorts, and deluxe hotels, and Michael D’Amato, who managed the construction of the later stages of the Foxwoods Resort Casino, including the Grand Pequot Tower, the group is thinking big.

As in very big.

Indeed, the complex will feature indoor and outdoor sports facilities, a resort hotel, and two indoor water parks, as well as an indoor hockey and basketball facility, an indoor sports bubble, a baseball complex, soccer and mixed-use fields, beach-volleyball courts, restaurants, and on-site townhomes.

There is demand for all of the above, said Robbins, adding that there isn’t anything like this in the Northeast, and the developers expect to draw visitors from a 300-mile radius and do so for at least 10 months out of the year; yes, the water in the tubing river will be heated.

“The developers believe there are 25 million people in the catchment area for this facility,” said Robbins, who used the phrases ‘Disney-esque’ and ‘think Orlando’ a number of times as he talked about just what is being proposed for the Palmer site.

Elaborating, he said there will be a large water park attached to the resort complex (again, like the Disney parks) that become part of the package of staying at that facility. There will also be second water park for day trippers, as well as a host of other facilities.

Robbins said the Palmer site, while somewhat remote (which explains the lack of development at and around the exit 8 interchange), lies roughly halfway between Springfield and Worcester and is easily accessible to several major population centers. And that has made it a hot property, as they say in this business, for some time.

“When Mohegan signed on, I had a number of meetings with them, and they absolutely loved that site,” said Robbins. “They loved it because [then-Gov.] Deval Patrick said he wasn’t thrilled about casinos going to urban areas; his vision was for a bucolic, ‘drive to the destination, stay a few nights’ type of resort, and that’s what Mohegan is. But the location is also ideal.”

So much so that Northeast pursued a number of different development opportunities for the site, but eventually returned to the concept that grew out of the casino proposal and may eventually replace it as Palmer biggest hope to replace the many manufacturing jobs that were lost there over the past few decades and bring new vibrancy to the community.

Preliminary estimates call for 2,000 jobs, said Robbins, adding that the project might well become a synergistic complement to the recently opened MGM Springfield, offering people from outside the region more reason to come to the Bay State, and specifically Western Mass., for an extended stay.

At present, there is no timetable for the development, said Robbins, adding that the Palmer Sports Group is working with town officials to secure the necessary approvals and make the project a reality.

— George O’Brien

Commercial Real Estate

Lots of Potential

 

Evan Plotkin, left, with parking attendants Joe Martin, middle, and Damien Denesha

Evan Plotkin, left, with parking attendants Joe Martin, middle, and Damien Denesha at the new service just outside 1350 Main St.

Valet parking isn’t exactly a novel concept; banquet halls, restaurants, and hospitals have been offering that service for years, if not decades. But it is when it comes to downtown Springfield’s office towers. One Financial Plaza recently introduced the concept, and in a few weeks, it is living up the promise first foreseen a decade ago.

Evan Plotkin says he first conceived of the idea of instituting valet parking at 1350 Main St. in downtown Springfield — the office tower he co-owns — almost 10 years ago.

Then, as now, he thought the service would bring a needed, higher level of convenience to people visiting professionals and other tenants in the tower, take some off the rough edge off Springfield when it comes to the issues of parking and enforcement of same — matters that can keep some from even venturing into the city to do business — and be another selling point when it comes to attracting new tenants and prompting existing tenants to re-up.

So why did it take a decade for the concept to become reality and, according to early projections, fulfill all that promise?

“I couldn’t really afford it back then,” said Plotkin, who laughed as he said that but was nonetheless quite serious with his tone. But there were other reasons as well, ranging from the economy — that was the height of the recession — to some logistics (getting all the needed approvals from the city), to a vibrancy level that needed to still come up a notch for this to really work. Or two notches. Or three.

All of those issues, including the notches of vibrancy, are now being referred to with the past tense, or certainly will be when MGM Springfield opens its doors in a month. So Plotkin and the other owners of 1350 Main have made that dream from a decade ago a reality, and they’re off to a fast start, by Plotkin’s estimates, with this valet parking venture, which also serves visitors of neighboring City Hall, the county courthouse a block or so away, and other nearby facilities, at the start of this month.

That was the Fourth of July week, as you’ll recall, so the numbers have to be kept in perspective, said Plotkin, adding that those first few days, the attendants were parking 25 to 30 cars a day. By early the next week, the numbers had doubled, and on July 12, a Thursday, they parked 73 cars.

“And I think those numbers will just continue to grow as more people become aware of the service,” said Plotkin, adding that roughly half of the customers thus far have been visitors to City Hall, more than a third have ventured to 1350 Main, and the rest have had other destinations in mind.

The service, managed by Valet Park of America, is roughly as expensive as traditional parking, said Plotkin, noting that the cost is $2 for 20 minutes or less (enough time for a quick visit to tenants at 1350 Main or offices in City Hall), $4 for visits ranging from 20 minutes to two hours (enough time to go the gym on the building’s ninth floor), and $2 for each additional hour after that. Several tenants at 1350 Main already provide vouchers to visitors to cover the cost of the service, just as they would with normal parking.

The service, operated on what’s known as City Hall Place, has a few spaces right outside City Hall, roughly two dozen more in the Civic Center Parking Garage, and more in the lots under I-91, said Plotkin, adding that, with the way the concept is catching on, more may be needed.

This isn’t exactly a novel idea — valet parking has been used by banquet facilities, restaurants, and hospitals for years now. But it is for an office tower, at least in this market, said Plotkin, adding that, as he surveyed a changing landscape downtown and pending changes, especially MGM, he decided it was time to execute that plan he first conceived all those years ago.

“We looked at what was happening downtown, and the construction for MGM and the [I-91] viaduct creates a lot of conversation about parking, and it’s always pretty negative,” he explained. “I really wanted to get ahead of all that with our building.”

Elaborating, he said 1350 Main St. doesn’t have any structured parking (an attached garage or lot) and has historically been challenged by having to rely on nearly facilities. And with MGM set to open, that challenge, and the perception of parking issues, would only grow.

“Visitors there will utilize that garage, but they’ll also be looking for other places to park,” he noted. “And what happens is that regular people who just want to do business downtown will have this fear that it’s going to be challenging to find a space. People will say, ‘it’s a hassle; I don’t want to feed a meter all day.’”

Thus far, the service is doing just what he thought it would. It’s providing that layer of convenience for visitors, his tenants seem to like the service and consider it added value, and, in Plotkin’s mind, it’s helping to put a friendlier face on downtown Springfield.

Or at least a strong counter to the parking patrol that polices the central business district. Those individuals are just doing their jobs, he said, but they put visitors to the downtown area and his building on edge — and sometimes dent their wallet.

Valet service is “putting a positive face on parking in Springfield,” said Plotkin, who has been a tireless promoter and supporter of Springfield and especially and its downtown, and was recognized by BusinessWest as one of its Difference Makers for 2018 for those efforts. “There’s a negative connotation with those meter maids. People don’t like to get $50 tickets; they see those people coming, and they run out of the middle of a meeting or a lunch to put quarters in the meter.”

He said the arrival of MGM Springfield will certainly drive the numbers at the valet service higher and bring the business venture closer to and eventually past the break-even point he knew he couldn’t reach a decade ago.

Damien Denesha, recently named manager of this site by his employer, Valley Park of America, agreed.

“Once MGM opens, there will be a lot more people downtown, and parking will become more difficult,” he told BusinessWest. “Demand for this service will certainly grow.”

It took a decade for the concept Plotkin first put on paper to become reality. But thus far, the service seems to have, well, lots of potential, in every sense of that phrase.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Commercial Real Estate

Making a Move

Two architect’s renderings of the planned new home of Way Finders at the site of the Peter Pan bus station.

Two architect’s renderings of the planned new home of Way Finders at the site of the Peter Pan bus station.

The nonprofit group Way Finders, formerly known as HAPHousing, has released renderings of the new 35,000-square-foot home it intends to build on the site of the soon-to-be abandoned Peter Pan Bus station. The move to the North End will bring benefits for the agency and its many types of clients, but it will also generate momentum — and economic development — at two locations, a trickle-down effect not always seen with relocations of this type.

From the start, Peter Gagliardi said, the goal was to find something on the major bus routes and, preferably, near the bus station.

Turns out, he accomplished all that and then some.

Indeed, the new home for Way Finders, formerly HAPHousing, will be the bus station — or the old bus station, to be more precise, the long-time home to Peter Pan Bus Lines. Which just happens to be across Main Street from the new bus station, the renovated, 90-year-old Union Station.

“I had really hoped that we would have a place near the bus station, but I never expected that we would buy the bus station — you can’t get any closer than that,” said Gagliardi, long-time CEO of the agency, which rebranded to Way Finders last fall in a reflection of its broadened mission.

But this ambitious, $15 million project (that’s the latest estimate) will achieve much more than added convenience for and clients served by Way Finders, many of whom don’t own cars or have reliable transportation, said Gagliardi.

It will also become an important additional component of broad revitalization efforts in downtown Springfield and especially the area just north of the Arch — and a likely catalyst for still more, he noted. It will also bring roughly 200 workers to that area, providing opportunities for service businesses already in that quadrant and those looking to expand into it. And it will give a growing, evolving agency the room and the facilities to better serve clients and continually expand its portfolio of services.

Indeed, a nonprofit that was once focused mostly on securing housing for those who could not afford it has morphed into a truly multi-faceted agency focused on everything from financial education to helping individuals buy a home to assisting them with finding employment so they can rent a home or apartment.

“Because there’s not enough housing to go around, we’re helping people avoid homelessness by becoming employed,” said Gagliardi, obviously proud of the results generated by this relatively new initiative. “We’ve placed about 560 people over the past four and half years, and at the end of 12 months, 80% to 90% of those people are still employed. We don’t have [housing] vouchers for everyone, so we tell people employment might be their best bet.”

But while this relocation will bring many benefits to Way Finders and its many clients, there will be a trickle-down effect as well, and one not always seen when a large employer leaves one home for another.

Peter Gagliardi says the new Way Finders headquarters will be a solid addition to Springfield’s North End.

Peter Gagliardi says the new Way Finders headquarters will be a solid addition to Springfield’s North End.

Indeed, this relocation, announced late last year, is not a case of musical chairs — the commercial real-estate variety, anyway — a phrase that brokers and those involved in economic development like to use when a tenant within a property abandons it for something similar a few miles or even a few blocks away.

Such moves often don’t have a significant net impact on the real-estate market or the economy of the area in question, experts say, because the only thing that’s really changing is the tenant’s street address.

In the case of Way Finders, so much more is changing. It’s soon-to-be-former home in Springfield — the agency also has an office in Holyoke — at 322 Main St. in the South End has been acquired by Balise Motor Sales. And while no plans have been announced, it seems likely that property will be put to new and different use as Balise expands its already considerable footprint in that part of the city.

Meanwhile, Way Finders’ move to the North End, coming as Peter Pan moves its employees into Union Station, provides another shot of adrenaline for a section of the city that had been mostly dormant for years.

To borrow a phrase used often in business and politics, this move would appear to constitute a win-win-win for the South End, the North End — and specifically Union Station — and the nonprofit agency and its clients. Maybe that’s a win-win-win-win.

In any case, for this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest takes a look at this relocation and its many implications.

Space Exploration

As he talked about how Way Finders arrived at that press conference where its purchase of the Peter Pan property for $2.75 million was announced, Gagliardi said the seeds for that acquisition were planted quite some time ago.

To make a long story somewhat short, the nonprofit has grown significantly over the past several years as its mission has been expanded, he explained, adding that the workforce, or at least those members of it working in Springfield, outgrew the property at 322 Main St. a few years ago.

“We were comfortable at 120 people, but not at 160,” said Gagliardi as he got specific with the numbers of employees working at that site a few years ago. “It really compromised the quality of the space the staff was working in, and it also cramped the quarters we were using to work with clients; our foot traffic just kept increasing, especially with the issue of homelessness and people trying to keep a roof over our heads.

“It was getting to be untenable,” he went on, adding that parking was another issue, especially after MGM acquired the former Orr Cadillac property (Way Finders was leasing 40 parking spaces there) and converted it into the new Springfield Rescue Mission and Balise acquired an adjacent property, eliminating another 25 spaces. “The handwriting was on the wall. It was a 15,000-square-foot parcel with a 13,000-square-foot building; there wasn’t even room to put in a dumpster.”

By that time, “Balise had us surrounded,” said Gagliardi, adding that the car company had acquired several parcels around 322 Main St., and the logical step for Way Finders was to offer that building as the next addition to the portfolio, lease back office space and parking spaces, and commence a search for a new headquarters.

Which it did, while also moving about 40 employees to a large suite of offices on Maple Street, just a few blocks away.

As for that search, a request for proposals yielded several options for buying and especially leasing space, said Gagliardi, acknowledging the obvious — that a stable, growing nonprofit with roughly 200 employees would be a very attractive tenant for a number of landlords in the city.

The bus station became one of those options, he went on, adding that, after careful consideration, it became the best option, for reasons ranging from location — that first consideration in commercial real estate — to the footprint’s size and flexibility, especially with regard to parking (there will be room for 180 spaces).

Being near the new bus station, or transportation center (there is rail service at Union Station as well) was a big factor, he told BusinessWest.

“We needed a place well served by public transportation because a lot of our clients don’t have cars or don’t have reliable vehicles,” he explained. “And we have a lot of staff that live in the city and could use buses if they were convenient.”

Initially, the thought was to renovate the existing facilities at the bus station, said Gagliardi, adding that a detailed review determined that new construction would allow better utilization of the footprint and better service to clients.

“We looked at it closely, but the cost of bringing facilities up to code was substantial,” he said. “It would cost even more to do it as new, but a new building will be far more energy-efficient than we can make the old one; it will be a much more efficient use of space. The end result was that it just made more sense to do this.”

Way Finders, which recently took title to the property, is in the process of putting together financing for the project, said Gagliardi, adding that it will include New Markets Tax Credits, a tax-exempt bond through MassDevelopment, and significant fundraising, perhaps a total of $3 million to $4 million. The goal is to move in by September 2019.

As for that trickle-down effect mentioned earlier, often there isn’t much of that phenomenon with moves such as this, only that musical-chairs outcome seen in this city and many others when new properties are constructed.

“Often, with relocations like this, you’re worried about the place left behind,” said Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer, adding that this thought process went through his mind even on projects like the new federal courthouse on State Street, an initiative he led as an aide to U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. The new facility changed the landscape on State Street and greatly upgraded the facilities for the court — but it also left a huge vacancy at 1550 Main St.

That property rebounded nicely and is now home to a diverse group of new tenants, but such bouncebacks don’t always occur.

With Peter Pan relocating to Union Station, the bus station would be left behind, said Kennedy, adding that Way Finders’ relocation was both a quick and extremely positive reuse of a highly visible piece of property.

“To get a brand new building there with a significant number of employees was a good result,” he said in a voice that certainly conveyed understatement, adding that the second parcel to be left behind, 322 Main St., will likely have an equally positive outcome.

“With a family like Balise that has accumulated a significant amount of property in that area, I expect a that we’re going to see a significant development there that will be good for the city and good for the tax base,” he told BusinessWest.

Room for Improvement

All that certainly constitutes a win-win-win, with maybe a few more wins as well.

It started with a desire to be near the bus station and ended with a purchase of the bus station. That wasn’t the expected route, to borrow a phrase from the transportation business, but this relocation will help several parties get to their desired destinations.

“We could have gone outside the city; we could have done something in an industrial park,” said Gagliardi. “But that wouldn’t have been good for our clients or good for the city. The idea that someone that can hop on a bus in Chicopee, take it to Union Station, and walk across the street is a good thing.

“We’d like to be part of the good stuff that’s happening this city,” he went on, adding that this relocation, not to mention the agency’s many initiatives to improve quality of life for area residents, will certainly make that a reality.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Commercial Real Estate Sections

Making a Move

Two architect’s renderings of the planned new home of Way Finders at the site of the Peter Pan bus station.

Two architect’s renderings of the planned new home of Way Finders at the site of the Peter Pan bus station.

The nonprofit group Way Finders, formerly known as HAPHousing, has released renderings of the new 35,000-square-foot home it intends to build on the site of the soon-to-be abandoned Peter Pan Bus station. The move to the North End will bring benefits for the agency and its many types of clients, but it will also generate momentum — and economic development — at two locations, a trickle-down effect not always seen with relocations of this type.

From the start, Peter Gagliardi said, the goal was to find something on the major bus routes and, preferably, near the bus station.

Turns out, he accomplished all that and then some.

Indeed, the new home for Way Finders, formerly HAPHousing, will be the bus station — or the old bus station, to be more precise, the long-time home to Peter Pan Bus Lines. Which just happens to be across Main Street from the new bus station, the renovated, 90-year-old Union Station.

“I had really hoped that we would have a place near the bus station, but I never expected that we would buy the bus station — you can’t get any closer than that,” said Gagliardi, long-time CEO of the agency, which rebranded to Way Finders last fall in a reflection of its broadened mission.

But this ambitious, $15 million project (that’s the latest estimate) will achieve much more than added convenience for and clients served by Way Finders, many of whom don’t own cars or have reliable transportation, said Gagliardi.

It will also become an important additional component of broad revitalization efforts in downtown Springfield and especially the area just north of the Arch — and a likely catalyst for still more, he noted. It will also bring roughly 200 workers to that area, providing opportunities for service businesses already in that quadrant and those looking to expand into it. And it will give a growing, evolving agency the room and the facilities to better serve clients and continually expand its portfolio of services.

Indeed, a nonprofit that was once focused mostly on securing housing for those who could not afford it has morphed into a truly multi-faceted agency focused on everything from financial education to helping individuals buy a home to assisting them with finding employment so they can rent a home or apartment.

“Because there’s not enough housing to go around, we’re helping people avoid homelessness by becoming employed,” said Gagliardi, obviously proud of the results generated by this relatively new initiative. “We’ve placed about 560 people over the past four and half years, and at the end of 12 months, 80% to 90% of those people are still employed. We don’t have [housing] vouchers for everyone, so we tell people employment might be their best bet.”

But while this relocation will bring many benefits to Way Finders and its many clients, there will be a trickle-down effect as well, and one not always seen when a large employer leaves one home for another.

Peter Gagliardi says the new Way Finders headquarters will be a solid addition to Springfield’s North End.

Peter Gagliardi says the new Way Finders headquarters will be a solid addition to Springfield’s North End.

Indeed, this relocation, announced late last year, is not a case of musical chairs — the commercial real-estate variety, anyway — a phrase that brokers and those involved in economic development like to use when a tenant within a property abandons it for something similar a few miles or even a few blocks away.

Such moves often don’t have a significant net impact on the real-estate market or the economy of the area in question, experts say, because the only thing that’s really changing is the tenant’s street address.

In the case of Way Finders, so much more is changing. It’s soon-to-be-former home in Springfield — the agency also has an office in Holyoke — at 322 Main St. in the South End has been acquired by Balise Motor Sales. And while no plans have been announced, it seems likely that property will be put to new and different use as Balise expands its already considerable footprint in that part of the city.

Meanwhile, Way Finders’ move to the North End, coming as Peter Pan moves its employees into Union Station, provides another shot of adrenaline for a section of the city that had been mostly dormant for years.

To borrow a phrase used often in business and politics, this move would appear to constitute a win-win-win for the South End, the North End — and specifically Union Station — and the nonprofit agency and its clients. Maybe that’s a win-win-win-win.

In any case, for this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest takes a look at this relocation and its many implications.

Space Exploration

As he talked about how Way Finders arrived at that press conference where its purchase of the Peter Pan property for $2.75 million was announced, Gagliardi said the seeds for that acquisition were planted quite some time ago.

To make a long story somewhat short, the nonprofit has grown significantly over the past several years as its mission has been expanded, he explained, adding that the workforce, or at least those members of it working in Springfield, outgrew the property at 322 Main St. a few years ago.

“We were comfortable at 120 people, but not at 160,” said Gagliardi as he got specific with the numbers of employees working at that site a few years ago. “It really compromised the quality of the space the staff was working in, and it also cramped the quarters we were using to work with clients; our foot traffic just kept increasing, especially with the issue of homelessness and people trying to keep a roof over our heads.

“It was getting to be untenable,” he went on, adding that parking was another issue, especially after MGM acquired the former Orr Cadillac property (Way Finders was leasing 40 parking spaces there) and converted it into the new Springfield Rescue Mission and Balise acquired an adjacent property, eliminating another 25 spaces. “The handwriting was on the wall. It was a 15,000-square-foot parcel with a 13,000-square-foot building; there wasn’t even room to put in a dumpster.”

By that time, “Balise had us surrounded,” said Gagliardi, adding that the car company had acquired several parcels around 322 Main St., and the logical step for Way Finders was to offer that building as the next addition to the portfolio, lease back office space and parking spaces, and commence a search for a new headquarters.

Which it did, while also moving about 40 employees to a large suite of offices on Maple Street, just a few blocks away.

As for that search, a request for proposals yielded several options for buying and especially leasing space, said Gagliardi, acknowledging the obvious — that a stable, growing nonprofit with roughly 200 employees would be a very attractive tenant for a number of landlords in the city.

The bus station became one of those options, he went on, adding that, after careful consideration, it became the best option, for reasons ranging from location — that first consideration in commercial real estate — to the footprint’s size and flexibility, especially with regard to parking (there will be room for 180 spaces).

Being near the new bus station, or transportation center (there is rail service at Union Station as well) was a big factor, he told BusinessWest.

“We needed a place well served by public transportation because a lot of our clients don’t have cars or don’t have reliable vehicles,” he explained. “And we have a lot of staff that live in the city and could use buses if they were convenient.”

Initially, the thought was to renovate the existing facilities at the bus station, said Gagliardi, adding that a detailed review determined that new construction would allow better utilization of the footprint and better service to clients.

“We looked at it closely, but the cost of bringing facilities up to code was substantial,” he said. “It would cost even more to do it as new, but a new building will be far more energy-efficient than we can make the old one; it will be a much more efficient use of space. The end result was that it just made more sense to do this.”

Way Finders, which recently took title to the property, is in the process of putting together financing for the project, said Gagliardi, adding that it will include New Markets Tax Credits, a tax-exempt bond through MassDevelopment, and significant fundraising, perhaps a total of $3 million to $4 million. The goal is to move in by September 2019.

As for that trickle-down effect mentioned earlier, often there isn’t much of that phenomenon with moves such as this, only that musical-chairs outcome seen in this city and many others when new properties are constructed.

“Often, with relocations like this, you’re worried about the place left behind,” said Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer, adding that this thought process went through his mind even on projects like the new federal courthouse on State Street, an initiative he led as an aide to U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. The new facility changed the landscape on State Street and greatly upgraded the facilities for the court — but it also left a huge vacancy at 1550 Main St.

That property rebounded nicely and is now home to a diverse group of new tenants, but such bouncebacks don’t always occur.

With Peter Pan relocating to Union Station, the bus station would be left behind, said Kennedy, adding that Way Finders’ relocation was both a quick and extremely positive reuse of a highly visible piece of property.

“To get a brand new building there with a significant number of employees was a good result,” he said in a voice that certainly conveyed understatement, adding that the second parcel to be left behind, 322 Main St., will likely have an equally positive outcome.

“With a family like Balise that has accumulated a significant amount of property in that area, I expect a that we’re going to see a significant development there that will be good for the city and good for the tax base,” he told BusinessWest.

Room for Improvement

All that certainly constitutes a win-win-win, with maybe a few more wins as well.

It started with a desire to be near the bus station and ended with a purchase of the bus station. That wasn’t the expected route, to borrow a phrase from the transportation business, but this relocation will help several parties get to their desired destinations.

“We could have gone outside the city; we could have done something in an industrial park,” said Gagliardi. “But that wouldn’t have been good for our clients or good for the city. The idea that someone that can hop on a bus in Chicopee, take it to Union Station, and walk across the street is a good thing.

“We’d like to be part of the good stuff that’s happening this city,” he went on, adding that this relocation, not to mention the agency’s many initiatives to improve quality of life for area residents, will certainly make that a reality.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]