Springfield Looks to Rebuild from Gas Explosion
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB)– Plans are in the works to redevelop a section of Springfield devastated by a natural gas explosion two years ago.
The plan was funded by Columbia Gas through a settlement with the city of Springfield.
The devastation was widespread after the gas line explosion. More than 40 buildings were damaged and 18 people injured.
The explosion left the upper Worthington street area a mess.
Mayor Domenic Sarno says there is a new vision for the area – to create an innovation district.
“The study has proposed an innovation district to do here, to move forward and capitalize on the leverage of the Union station , market rate housing, traffic flow to redefine the former entertainment district to more into dining,” says Sarno.
For example, the Apremont Triangle’s expanded park space and wider sidewalks are designed to be pedestrian friendly.
Stearns Square will become an outdoor room for the Worthington street district.
The plan focuses on converting to a restaurant district from a club dominated district.
Now the challenge is to implement the plan.
“There has to be a priming of the pump and that’s where public funds and government comes into place, they need to do things to make it attractive for those start-up businesses to move in here the restaurants and the galleries because that will create the demand for housing and for people to want to live downtown,” says Evan Plotkin of NAI Plotkin Commercial Real Estate.
With an emphasis on restaurants in the planned district, some say Springfield should take advantage of its diversity in ethnic cuisine.
“I’m thrilled about the restaurant district and I’m hoping we’ll be able to showcase some of our ethnic cuisine which I think Springfield has that a lot of cities do not have, the great Jamaican food, Latin food, the great Vietnamese food is something that’s unique to Springfield so I’m hoping some of that can be represented there,” says Peter Newland.