UMass Leases 27,000 Square Feet in Springfield, Aims to Open Campus By Fall 2014

The University of Massachusetts has picked a site for its satellite campus in downtown Springfield. The school will lease more than 27,000 square feet in the Tower Square office tower.

UMass President Robert Caret says the campus will offer an “affordable public higher education option” for Springfield-area residents. But he does not know how many students will show up.

“We hope eventually thousands. But what you find when you open these centers is – first – you have to market them, so people are aware of them, begin to understand them,” Caret says. “People need to trust that if they come here that you’re going to be here next year. So there has to be a sense of stability that’s defined. So it will happen incrementally.”

UMass Board Chair Henry Thomas – who’s from Springfield – says if there’s enough demand, the university could almost double its space in the city.

“This site here is expandable to 50,000 square feet,” Thomas says. “We think potentially that we can get to that particular demand level within a three to five year period.”

The campus is scheduled to open next fall.

This move by UMass comes after Governor Deval Patrick and Springfield officials pushed the university to set up for a more permanent academic presence in the city.

The Associated Press and New England Public Radio’s Kari Njiiri and Sam Hudzik contributed to this report.