Asylum Nightclub purchased by city; will undergo overhaul
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD Mayor Domenic Sarno called the city's acquisition of the 70,000-square foot lot at 1592 Main St. last week another piece in the downtown development puzzle.
The Finance Control Board (FCB) voted earlier this month to allow the city to purchase the property - the former Asylum Nightclub - for $630,000, with plans for the site to undergo a major structural overhaul.
Sarno explained that approximately 30,000 square feet of the lot will be demolished to make room for parking. He added that the remaining acreage will house office or retail space and restaurants.
"The Asylum building has been an eyesore on our city's Main Street for a number of years," Sarno said, adding that the site has been vacant and deteriorating for over five years. "This is a significant downtown redevelopment project that will serve our existing entertainment and restaurant establishments well and will also encourage their growth."
He added that the aim of downtown redevelopment is to "make this area a dining and cultural Mecca."
The Springfield Parking Authority will oversee the parking lot, Sarno noted.
"While other communities are retrenching in these difficult economic times, Springfield is planning, investing and growing," Executive Director of the FCB Stephen Lisauskas, acting chief administrative and financial officer, said.
Sarno added the revitalized location will generate "positive foot traffic" throughout downtown.
He said this new announcement is "buttoning up the deal we made with the Federal Building" several weeks ago.
Sarno explained the project goes hand-in-hand with the tentative agreement for the Springfield School Department headquarters to be relocated to the Federal Building, which will also house other investors including Baystate Health.
Business owners adjacent to the Federal Building and Asylum property were also enthusiastic about the city's redevelopment plans.
"Symbolically, this is a wonderful announcement because of the problems that had been emanating from the [Asylum] property over the years," Rudi Scherff, manager of the Student Prince Restaurant, said. "The [partial] demolition of the building will create greater visibility for our restaurant and provide easier access to our customers."
John Judge, the city's new chief development officer, said the project will be on the "fast track" toward construction.