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HUD funds will be used to demolish nursing home

Date: 9/15/2010

Sept. 15, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Standing in front of the long abandoned Spruce Manor Nursing Home at the corner of Central and Spruce streets, Congressman Richard Neal, Mayor Domenic Sarno, and Raymond Jordan of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the city has received $1.97 million in the latest round of HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Funds (NSF).

So far the city has received $4.7 million in NSF, Sarno said. The money is part of a $6 billion national program, Jordan explained.

The funding is being used to bankroll 22 housing projects in the city, Geraldine McCafferty, the city's director of housing, said.

"This is fantastic help," she said of the funding.

The funding will be used to demolish the former nursing home, she said. The plans are once the space is cleared -- which should take place before the end of the year -- the city will issue a Request for Proposals to develop single family homes on the lot.

The nursing home closed in the 1990s and the city took possession of the property in 2004 through a tax title seizure after a lengthy process to determine the actual owners. HAP Housing had been designated as the developers of the space with homes, but McCafferty explained, with the housing market declining the plans were abandoned.

With the task and cost of demolishing the building undertaken by the city -- the price tag is about $300,000, she said -- McCafferty believes the property would be more attractive to potential developers.

She noted that Central Street is seeing substantial development activity. There are now two homes completed of a six single-family group near the intersection of Central and Pine streets. Across the street from that development, the city has cleared a large lot that had at one time been used as a community garden. McCafferty said the lot has since been used for illegal dumping and the city will install grass and plantings to make it look "slightly park-like."

The reasoning, she explained, is if the property appears to be managed, the illegal dumping will decrease. At some point that space will be marketed for private development as well, she added.

Sarno said, "Reclaiming neighborhoods is done one house at a time and the city remains committed to revitalizing our city's neighborhoods."

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