Tuesday, August 14, 2007
By MIKE PLAISANCE
SPRINGFIELD - Consultants hired to evaluate the market potential of a part of State Street that is undergoing a nearly $81 million makeover said last night the area could support a 70,000-square-foot supermarket and other retail.
"Springfield is an important market and a market to be capitalized on," said Sarah S. Woodworth, senior vice president with ZHA Inc., of Annapolis, Md.
But the consultants, residents and business owners at the presentation also said obstacles to progress include concerns that State Street is unsafe and that any new jobs that are established have good wages.
"If you can't buy anything, you're sort of stuck in the middle," said Inez Chester, owner of Chester-Chester Tax Service, 886 State St.
Stephen S. Gray, of Bowdoin Street, said he agreed that fears about safety hinder development.
"It's something you know is real if you live here," Gray said.
About 60 people attended the State Street Alliance's presentation at Dunbar Community Center, 33 Oak St.
The focus was 3.2 miles of State Street between East Columbus Avenue and Berskshire Avenue. A $67 million federal courthouse is being built at 330 State St.
And set to begin later this year is $13.9 million worth of road and sidewalk reconstruction and installation of new traffic signals, crosswalks, lighting and trees.
In line with that government-funded renovation, the alliance of more than 50 schools, businesses, churches and organizations has organized to coordinate private improvements. The alliance hired ZHA in March.
Among the assets of the area are "phenomenal" highway access, the key institutions of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., American International College and Springfield Technical Community College and parts of State Street that get 29,000 vehicles a day, consultants said.
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