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Neal hosts briefing outlining details of new data center

Date: 1/11/2010

Jan. 11, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- The state's Second Data Center at the location of the former Technical High School on Elliot Street is expected to bring up to 70 jobs to the city and employ 200 people during its construction, according to Congressman Richard Neal.

The opening for the new center is expected to be May 2012.

Neal was joined by state and local officials at a briefing Thursday to announce the details of the long-awaited project that had been the object of a political struggle over its location. Neal thanked Gov. Deval Patrick for his decision to re-use the former high school site and noted he had lobbied the governor on a bi-weekly basis.

Michael L. McKimmey, deputy commissioner of the Office of Planning, Design and Construction, said officials "want to make sure it contributes to the city of Springfield and this historic neighborhood."

The $100 million project joins other investments in the State Street corridor, Neal said. The other projects include the $70 million Federal Courthouse and the $25 million reconstruction of State Street.

As described by Stuart Lecky, the IT program manager of the second data center, the center will provide the much-needed backup of vital state records -- everything from information on which state residents receive entitlement checks to criminal information used by police to the records of the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

The state's primary data center is in Chelsea, Lecky said, and the state currently pays for backup from private providers. Establishing the second center will provide the state with greater security and savings, he added.

Neal Middleton of TRO-Jung Brannen, the architects for the project, explained the entire existing Technical High School building would not be preserved but a significant portion of the front of the building will be saved. The new 115,000 square foot building will extend into the lot between Elliot and Spring Streets.

He explained that looking down Elliot Street from State Street, "you won't know there is a new building."

Middleton added the goal for the design and construction of the building is to qualify for the gold level of energy conservation set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council. Gold is the second highest rating.

Most of the space in the two-story center will be dedicated to banks of computers, Middleton said.

The building will have just 17 parking spaces in order to encourage use of public transport, he added.

Neal said the governor would like to see a groundbreaking in the spring and the congressman added he would like to include a Technical High School reunion as part of the event.

Neal noted, "There is a great emotional bond for those of use who went through those doors."