Springfield City Council approves $6.5 million more for redevelopment of former Court Square Hotel
The Springfield, Massachusetts, City Council voted Friday to approve $6.5 million dollars in additional funding for a downtown redevelopment project. But some councilors voiced frustration with how the city handled the request.
The money would go towards rehabilitating the old Court Square Hotel.
The developers said costs went up because of the pandemic, and the project would stop if the funding wasn't approved immediately.
Councilor Kateri Walsh voted in favor but expressed frustration that the City Council had only learned of the shortfall a few weeks ago, even though the city had known about it for months.
"Why is a gun always held to the head of the city council and people come in at the last minute with these projects?" she said. "I am really offended by the way this has been presented to us, but I support the project and I support the unions. But I am disgruntled at the way this has been handled."
Several councilors said they'd heard from unions concerned about jobs being lost if the project came to an end.
The total additional cost is $13 million. The state has agreed to match the city's contribution.
City Councilor Tracye Whitfield voted no. She said she felt misled by city officials who said the state would only match the funding if the city pitched in.
"The match can come from any type of investor or lender. It does not have to come from the city of Springfield," she said.
Whitfield cited an email she got from a MassHousing official who wrote that the agency intends to continue its participation in the project regardless of the source of the additional funding.
But in a January letter, a MassHousing official wrote that $5 million of the money it would pitch in was contingent on $6.5 million coming from the city.
MassHousing declined to provide additional comment.