WESTFIELD – City Advancement Officer Joe Mitchell says the Westfield Redevelopment Authority is having appraisals done right now on remaining properties in the Elm Street Urban Renewal Plan.
Mitchell said the WRA has sent letters of interest to the Church Street Realty Trust, owners of the Romani bowling alley, and to the Madlyn Murphy Trust, owners of the former site of the Newberry’s Department story which burned down in 1986 and has been vacant since. The letters state that the WRA is interested in acquiring the properties for the urban renewal project.
Based on state law, before any offer can be made, the appraisals and offers must be approved by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), according to Mitchell. He added that hopefully, the owners will accept the offers once they’re made. If they don’t, the WRA has the authority to take the properties by eminent domain if in an urban renewal plan. The property owners then have a certain timeframe to sue the WRA to try and get additional funds.
“The WRA hopes to own these properties before the year’s end,” Mitchell said.
The Elm Street Urban Renewal Plan has three components, one of which is a mixed-use building on Elm Street where Mitchell said they would like to see a restaurant-retail on the first floor, and office-market rate housing above. The other two components are a parking structure or area, and the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) Transportation Pavilion on Arnold Street, which is underway.
Mitchell said he toured the site of the PVTA Transportation Pavilion on Wednesday. He said they are working “like gangbusters,” and hope to open their doors in March of 2017.