WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — A liability, an eyesore, a waste of space.
That’s how Westfield officials describe the defunct JJ Newbury’s property.
They want to replace it with a 130,000 square foot commercial development. Residents learned of the plans at a forum Wednesday night. It features an 1,800 square foot PVTA bus terminal, space for a number of restaurants or stores, and a much-needed parking garage.
“If we can build a parking garage with 500 parking spaces, it’s really going to alleviate a lot of stressful situations of people trying to find parking to do business downtown,” City Advancement Officer Jeff Dailey said.
The proposal isn’t being sent for development bids yet. Dailey says the forum was to keep the public in the loop on the proposal.
With Westfield’s big downtown roadway project nearly complete, officials say this latest proposal could be the catalyst that spurs economic growth.
“I’m fielding calls everyday, from restaurants, from stores that want to come in to Westfield to do business here and that’s really exciting,” Dailey said.
Dailey says most private developers refuse to demolish the building and then rebuild it, so the City has to step in to make the property attractive. Stephanie and Ed Puffer live in Westfield. They say while the downtown has seen years of construction, they welcome another project.
“The town is really beautiful and we want to see the improvement that are coming,” Stephanie said. “It’s for the future, we have a son, and we want to make sure that it’s nice.”
“Change is good, I think it’s all going to be a good thing,” Ed added. “Change is going to be nice.”
State and federal grants have already been allocated for use in the development. The proposal must be approved by the City’s planning commission and City Council before being sent out for bid.