In what could soon become a blueprint for other regions to follow when planning for urban development, the proposed MGM Springfield casino is being set up to embrace its surrounding community rather than shut it out or physically divide it. According to James Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, their $800 million casino project planned for Springfield’s South End hopes to establish a new model for the company’s casino communities.
One person closely watching the situation is the President and CEO of Worcester’s Regional Chamber of Commerce, Timothy Murray, who says, “Their vision is to create a new paradigm that’s outward looking and encourages the kind of cross-pollenization of locally owned businesses.”
Murray’s interest in the nearby project is directly related to Worcester’s $565 million CitySquare development project that is still under design. The hope is that the hotels and other needed developments in the downtown area for this project will be assessed carefully.
Murray, former mayor of Worcester as well as the Commonwealth’s former lieutenant governor, compared the potential of this project to those of the past. According to Murray, instead of opening up new possibilities, a project may end up dividing the city like the Worcester Center Galleria ended up doing. During his time as Mayor of Worcester, Murray oversaw the demolition of that mall, the space it once occupied now being used for the CitySquare project.
Muuray said the project, “is about undoing what the mall created and creating a true mixed-use district.” It’s hoped that MGM Springfield will similarly embrace its surroundings and not simply create an obstruction to community use of an urban area.