Page 15 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
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facturing and distribution facilities. Meanwhile, cannabis is start- ing to retreat, with some of the properties turned over to that use (or intended for that use) now back on the market, especially in Holyoke.
But the biggest area of concern moving forward is the office market. Remote work and its impact on how much space compa- nies will need is a huge factor, but there are other considerations as well, said Plotkin and Dill, noting that the continued consolida- tion of many sectors (a thread running through these 40th-anni- versary stories) is an issue as well.
This leaves questions about existing office towers and other facilities and their futures, he said, adding that conversion to resi- dential use is an option that should be explored.
There is a huge need for housing in the region, he went on, and the need may grow if east-west rail becomes a reality, which he believes it will.
“Having access to Boston that’s walkable from your downtown ... that will have a big impact,” Plotkin said. “You can live in down- town Springfield and, in an hour and a half, be in Boston. It takes
And it has been for decades now.
“Coopers & Lybrand had a large presence here, and they consolidated and moved to Hartford,” said Dill, citing just one example of this movement from years ago. “There
are fewer banks, fewer head offices ... fewer players in many sectors, and it has certainly impacted the market.”
“Having access to Boston that’s walkable from your downtown ... that will have a big impact. You can live in downtown Springfield and, in an hour and a half, be in Boston. It takes longer than that to drive to Boston from Sudbury.”
 As for remote work, Dill preferred to
remain somewhat optimistic about its future
and, thus, its overall impact on the real-estate
market, despite growing concern, if not out-
right panic, in larger cities such as Boston and San Francisco.
“It’s taken some time, but we’re starting to see a return to the office,” he said, noting that several major corporations are order- ing workers back, or trying to. “Work is kind of a social activity — there’s a reason we were all together in the first place as opposed to being out tending our own field.
“The joys of working at home, working in your pajamas, gets old after a while, I think,” he went on, leaving room for a measure of compromise in the form of a four-day workweek.
Plotkin is not quite as optimistic. He sees more permanence to remote work and hybrid schedules, and noted that Zoom has greatly reduced the need for people to be in their offices and for consumers to visit these offices.
longer than that to drive to Boston from Sudbury.”
Bottom Line
Flashing back 40 years, Dill said that, in many respects, down- town Springfield still looks a lot like it did then, at least from the street.
But a closer look — one inside the buildings on either side of Main Street — reveals large amounts of change, especially in Tower Square and the TD Bank building.
It’s very difficult to project what might come next given all that has happened over the past four decades, from the rise of malls to the demise of many of them, said Dill, adding quickly, and force- fully, that the only constant is change. BW
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