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MGM Springfield Plans $16M Contribution To 31 Elm Housing Redevelopment

Officials from Springfield, Massachusetts, and the city’s MGM casino laid out a plan for the gambling empire to fulfill the requirement that residential units be part of its development by partnering with the city to help fund the redevelopment of a former downtown hotel.

When MGM Springfield secured its casino license in June 2014, it made a commitment to developing 54 units of market-rate housing within a half-mile of the casino.

Last year, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission granted MGM an extension until March of this year to meet its commitment.

Seth Stratton, vice president and general counsel of MGM Springfield, told the commission Thursday that the company and city have agreed to a host community agreement amendment that would see the casino make a $16 million contribution towards the residential development of 31 Elm Street, a city-owned former hotel that's been vacant for more than three decades, rather than develop its own housing units.

"I think what this group in front of you represents is what I've experienced to be unprecedented collaboration at the city, state and developer level, with our involvement as well, to move forward a very complex project that has the potential to be transformative in the revitalization of downtown Springfield," he said.

Stratton described the 31 Elm property as "essentially separating MGM Springfield from the vibrancy of the business center and effectively the capital of downtown Springfield."

MGM Springfield laid out the details of the development and partnership in a memo to the commission.

Because local approvals for the host community agreement amendment are still required, the commission was not asked to give its approval for the plan Thursday.

Ombudsman John Ziemba said the commission could be asked to vote on the plan at its next business meeting on February 27.