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New phase of Hollywood neighborhood redevelopment begins

Date: 5/16/2012

May 16, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Domenic Sarno and Gordon Pulsifer, president of First Resource Development Company, broke ground on May 11 for the first phase of redevelopment of the South End neighborhood known as the Hollywood section.

Pulsifer explained the redevelopment will be in three phases and will affect seven of 23 buildings in the neighborhood. Among the improvements will be new kitchen and baths in the apartments, landscaping, video intercom security systems, and heightened system of security cameras.

The first phase will also include a community center building, he added, and should be completed in December.

The neighborhood has been noted for its congestion and density, and Pulsifer said that within four years all of the phases will be completed and there will be 316 renovated apartments serving about 1,000 residents.

Although many people associate the neighborhood with crime — Sarno once suggested demolishing the apartment buildings and using the land for a baseball stadium — Pulsifer explained the history of the area. In 1900, the area was the last undeveloped parcel in the city and its wooded acres were a popular location for picnics. Between 1914 and 1926, though, 44 apartment buildings were constructed there, of which 23 now remain.

The original name of the area was "Outing Park," and Pulsifer said the neighborhood is now known as "Outing Park Historic District."

No stranger to this kind of work, Pulsifer's company most recently renovated the apartment blocks near the intersection of Federal and Worthington streets.

State Rep. Cheryl Coakley Rivera said, "Fourteen years ago, Leo [Florian, president of the South End Neighborhood Council], and I walked this area and to be frank with you it was scary."

She credited Sarno with the actions that have "turned it around."

Florian said, "This has been a long time coming. We've been meeting for 20 years in the neighborhood."

Florian added the South End's location — close to downtown and the highway — should be a key factor in its continued redevelopment.

"Location — You can't beat it," he said. "We're starting to see things really happen."

Speaking of the South End, Sarno said, "I've been saying for 20 years: make it clean, make it safe and people will come."

Sarno said, "Gordon Pulsifer is very tenacious, tenacious in a good way." He praised the company's work at Worthington Commons and called the Outing Park redevelopment a "very big piece of an even larger puzzle, the revitalization of the Sound End."

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