HUD grant awarded for South End redevelopment
Date: 1/16/2012Jan. 16, 2012
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD A $300,000 planning grant is another step that will continue the redevelopment of the South End neighborhood.
The Choice Neighborhoods grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be aimed at the renovation of the Marble Street apartments managed by the Springfield Housing Authority (SHA) and two HUD-assisted projects Concord Heights and Hollywood Apartments.
Making the grant announcement in the courtyard of the Marble Street Apartments, HUD New England Regional Administrator Barbara Fields said, “This will be a place of opportunity.”
This housing renewal is part of an overall plan for the neighborhood that includes an expansion of Emerson Wight Park, and the renovation of two buildings by the Caring Health Center and the development of Veritas Charter School, all of which are underway. Other elements include the relocation and rebuilding of the South End Community Center, the rebuilding of the Square One preschool and the construction of new market-rate housing.
The city of Springfield was the only community in New England to receive a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant and one of 31 nation-wide.
Fields explained the Choice Neighborhoods grew out of the Hope VI program that helped build 90,000 mixed-income housing units across the country.
Fields said the planning grant will “drill down deeply in the South End to put the pieces together.”
She emphasized the transformation of the neighborhood is a cooperative process. The partners include First Resource Development Company, South End Revitalization Coalition, DevelopSpringfield, and the United Way of the Pioneer Valley, among others.
Mayor Domenic Sarno, whose ties to the neighborhood include being the former executive director of the South End Community Center, said, “For the good people down here, this shows hope.”
SHA Executive Director Judge William Abrashkin said the building blocks that made the grant application possible have taken “many years” to complete. The grant itself represented “a couple years of hard work.” He said an implementation grant of $10 million to $30 million would be the next step.
“The reality is folks that cities are coming back,” Abrashkin said. “Cities are much more attractive for people to live.”
First Resource Companies owns 23 buildings in what was once known as the Hollywood section of the South End. Gordon Pulisfer, president of the company, welcomed the news of the planning grant.
“This is the first step in a series of many,” he said.
First Resource recently completed renovating the apartment complexes at the intersection of Federal and Worthington streets and Pulisfer said the Hollywood buildings are next on the company’s list.
He explained the state recently designated the area a historic district, which means there is the possibility for tax credits that could help finance the renovations.
Pulisfer said the renovated housing would be mostly classed as affordable with some market rate units as well.