Mason Square Apartments, Springfield – 2019

Mason Square Apartments, Springfield – 2019

‘You can do a lot by investing in cities’: Gov. Charlie Baker lauds Springfield project turning Indian Motorcycle plant into apartments

Charlie Baker has tossed many shovels of dirt during ceremonial groundbreakings, but he usually doesn’t keep the shovel.

It sounded like he would make an exception Thursday.

“I’ve never had a shovel from Indian Motorcycle,” the Massachusetts governor said after touring a Mason Square apartment project, which will result in 199 housing units at the site of the historic Springfield motorcycle plant and the former Mason Square fire station.

Work on the $36 million project is already underway, made possible by public and private financing and state and federal historic preservation tax credits.

“We appreciate the opportunity to invest in positive, good projects,” said Baker, who was accompanied by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, state Rep. Bud Williams, state Sen. James Welch and a host of local officials and civic leaders. Former state Rep. Benjamin Swan was on hand.

Williams praised Baker for supporting urban development.

“Charlie Baker and his administration believe in urban. For a long time, some folks thought this (project) was a pipe dream. But we got it done, and what has been an eyesore is going to be a centerpiece,” Williams said.

“Working together, we will bring back Mason Square.”

“You can do a lot by investing in cities,” Baker said. “There are two reasons. One is that there are a lot of people there. The other is that you can you do a lot more with transit-oriented stuff.”

“We’ll still do a lot with our suburbs, but a lot of good things are happening in our cities.”

Baker’s tour of the construction at Mason Square was part of a busy regional swing by the governor and lieutenant governor. The schedule included a visit to the Klaus Anderson Road/Johnson Brook culvert project in Southwick, an appearance at the Holyoke Farms groundbreaking, and an awards announcement for the Complete Streets Funding Program at the Springfield intersection of Breckwood Boulevard and Wilbraham Road.

According to Gordon Pulsifer, developer of First Resource of Hanover, the state’s investment makes up close to two-thirds of the Mason Square project cost. In July, a ceremony marked the start of construction on the site, which will result in 60 new units and rehabilitation of 139 others.

Baker said he remains dedicated to keeping Western Massachusetts on his radar.

“The day after I was first elected in 2014, I came to Springfield to meet with (Mayor Domenic Sarno). I wanted it known that we want to work with all of Massachusetts,” he said.

“There are a lot of positive things going on in Western Massachusetts. This is a great example.”

The Indian Motorcycle site has a long history. At one time, it housed the largest motorcycle plant in the world and turned out vehicles that helped transport America during World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. Police departments across the U.S. relied on the plant.

Williams said the rehabilitation of the property for new use will provide not just an economic boost to the city and Mason Square neighborhood, but also a source of pride.

Welch agreed. “Many people from across the city, no matter what neighborhood they’re from, see this as iconic. I commend all of those who never gave on it,” he said.

The project is expected to be completed next summer.

Baker has prioritized passage of a housing stimulus bill. He has introduced a measure and hopes lawmakers pass a bill before the end of the year. Lawmakers failed to a pass a similar version of Baker’s bill last year.

Article Credit: MassLive