Holyoke, MA City Council Unanimously Passes Downtown Redevelopment Plan

Tuesday night, in its first meeting since Mayor Alex Morse announced he will consider casino proposals, the Holyoke, Massachusetts city council primarily focused on the casino debate. But it also unanimously passed a redevelopment plan for the city’s downtown. 

The so-called “Center City Plan,” introduced by the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority in September, seeks to revitalize the city’s downtown by upgrading infrastructure and rehabilitating or demolishing blighted properties. City councilor-at-large Rebecca Lisi says the plan is an effort to entice private investment to central Holyoke. She says the plan also divides the downtown into ten zones and assesses what type of development each zone is best suited for.

“Whether the target is commercial, industrial, residential, or mixed, the urban renewal plan works to consolidate properties and identify ways that businesses can make use of economies of scale in our downtown.”
 
Lisi, who opposes a casino in the city, says the renewal plan could be hurt if a casino is built at the Wyckoff Country Club or Mountain Park, where developers have shown interest.  She says a casino in either of those locations would siphon money away from downtown, ”similar to what the mall did when the mall came into Holyoke years ago.”
 
But in a set of criteria for casino proposals written last week, Mayor Alex Morse said any casino would have to “support, financially and materially, the City’s redevelopment initiatives.” But Morse did not specify how much a casino company would be required to invest in the city’s downtown.