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First MGM impacts to be felt on March 1

Date: 1/23/2015

SPRINGFIELD – The good news: the start of the process to build the MGM Springfield casino has started. The bad news: parking may be at a premium in downtown Springfield for the next several years. 

Adding to the mix will be the start of the rebuilding of the Interstate 91 viaduct next year.

There may not be yet a shovel in the ground at the site of the MGM Springfield casino, but the first impacts of the construction process will be felt within weeks. MGM officials released an update on the progress of the project Jan. 21.

Carole Brennan, a spokesperson for MGM Springfield confirmed to Reminder Publications that all of the properties needed for the project have been acquired. These are: Main Street: 1008-1028,1090 1104,1120,1126,1132,1156,1158,  1168,1170; State Street: 73,79-83,93, 95,101; Bliss Street: 19,53-57; Howard Street: 26,48; East Columbus Avenue: 1357; and Union Street: 99.

MGM has engaged a relocation consultant to help businesses find a new location. Eligible tenants will receive payments equal to $3 per square foot of current rental space for relocating within the city or $4 per square foot of current rental space for relocating within the Springfield Business Improvement District (BID).

The affected businesses will have to be out of their current locations by the end of February. MGM officials began working with landlords and tenants shortly after the November 2014 election. 

Closing on March 1 will be the following parking lots at 16-30, 53-57,61, 69-71 Bliss St: South Side of Bliss Street Bliss; North Side, Howard Street and 73 State St.

Brennan said that while the resort’s garage will be the first building constructed there is no date when it will be finished. During the construction of the campus, priority, she said, will be given to construction vehicles, contractors’ cars, courthouse employees and then the public.

When asked if the Springfield Parking Authority (SPA) can absorb these parkers, Mary McNally, the agency’s executive director, had a short answer, “No."

She added, “We filled almost to capacity.”

McNally said she has meeting periodically with MGM to determine where these cars would go. SPA has already found spaces last September for the people who were parking at the Precision Auto lot on Union Street.

There were about 500 parkers who use the lots on Bliss Street that will be closed, she said.

There are SPA spaces left in the downtown at its lot on Winter Street, but that is a longer walk to the courthouses and other offices.

The repairs on Interstate 91 will compound the parking issue. McNally  said the latest  information she has been given the bids for the project will be opened next month  with the selected contractor begin doing preparation work in May. Actually work to the deck of the highway would start in the fall.

SPA has already lost spaces in its lots under the highway and will probably lose some more as the work continues, she said. 

“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” McNally said. 

She predicted, “If we have a crisis, it will be a short-termed crisis.”