By Peter Goonan/ THE REPUBLICAN
SPRINGFIELD - The city has received a new $1.2 million federal grant that will expand efforts to redevelop foreclosed, abandoned properties in Springfield and stabilize neighborhoods.
The grant was announced outside the long-vacant Spruce Manor Nursing Home on Central Street, which is slated for demolition this fall, financed from a prior round of funds under the same federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the grant to Springfield. It is expected to result in the acquisition, redevelopment or demolition of approximately 10 foreclosed properties in Springfield, city officials said.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno praised the funds, saying the money will expand efforts to confront blight and stabilize neighborhoods “street by street, block by block.”
U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said abandoned, blighted properties are one of the greatest challenges faced by urban communities. The federal assistance and resulting redevelopment of property will aid in “protecting housing, preserving neighborhoods and creating jobs,” he said.
During the first two rounds of funding in 2008 and 2009, Springfield was awarded $3.5 million in neighborhood stabilization funds, resulting in 22 properties either under development or about to be developed, said Geraldine McCafferty, the director of the city’s Office of Housing.
The latest round of funds totaled $1 billion nationwide and was awarded to states, counties and communities struggling to reverse the effects of the foreclosure crisis, officials said. Springfield was the only city in the state that received a direct grant this round, with the state receiving $5 million and Worcester County receiving $1.1 million, officials said.
The Spruce Manor site has been vacant more than a decade, and was taken for non-payment of taxes in 2004, McCafferty said. A housing development was proposed on the property in 2007, but failed due to the economy, she said.
The city is currently removing asbestos from the building, and anticipates demolition will follow in 30 to 45 days, McCafferty said. The city would subsequently seek a new use for the site, likely housing, aided by the site being cleared, she said.
Others attending the press conference included: Raymond A. Jordan, a regional representative for Housing and Urban Development; John D. Judge, the city’s chief development officer; and Melvin A. Edwards, Ward 3 city councilor.