The city of Springfield is advertising for bids for a major downtown improvement project.
Bids from contractors for the estimated $1.5 million renovation of Stearns Square park in the heart of the city’s historic commercial district are due at City Hall by 2 p.m. on October 18th – almost 16 months after the project was first publically announced.
The work is to include restoration of a water fountain, new sidewalks, landscaping, lighting and the installation of park furniture.
Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said the project is part of a plan to spruce up a several block area of downtown between the newly reopened Union Station and the MGM casino that is scheduled to open next September.
" You can't have some shining jewels and the rest not be scrubbed," explained Kennedy.
The restoration of Duryea Way, a plaza between Union Station and Stearns Square, is also part of the project.
Mayor Domenic Sarno has called the Stearns Square restoration an “integral part of the renaissance of our downtown.”
The city has been collaborating with the Springfield Business Improvement District and abutting property owners on the Stearns Square project, according to Kennedy.
" If we can get more and more attractions throughout downtown everybody is going to make out better. So, I think it is going to work," said Kennedy.
The city is planning to widen sidewalks to make space for outdoor dining and has established a dining district development fund.
" Restaurants have some difficulty getting bank financing, so this loan fund is offering somewhere in the 2-3 percent range for loans up to $200,000 with a reasonable repayment schedule if they open a restaurant in the so-called 'dining district'," said Kennedy.
The quasi-public MassDevelopment has renovated a building for lease that abuts Stearns Square.
A few blocks away, the nonprofit DevelopSpringfield has a $4 million project underway to transform a vacant building into an innovation center for start-up businesses.
Major construction work on the Stearns Square project should be finished by July 1st, according to city officials.