Four years have passed since Opal Real Estate was designated the preferred developer for the Court Square Development. The main six story building is right across from city hall and the courthouse. The Court Square Hotel was once the center of Springfield’s civic life, the place where distinguished visitors stayed when they came to town. The buildings in Court Square are owned by the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. The buildings still looks good from the outside, but inside the plaster is falling and there is substantial damage from water leaks. The Springfield Redevelopment Authority have given Peter Picknelly and Demetrios Panteleakis many extensions of time to get their plans and financing together. The plan was to convert it to office space, but it never gained traction in the face of a surplus in downtown office space. The eventual sale price of the property was never set, and four years later, the city’s development agency has yet to receive final plans that the Redevelopment Authority can approve. Now, with the resignation of Panteleakis, the future of this project is up in the air. For a long time, Opal’s plan was to convert the long vacant old hotel building to offices, with retail space on the first floor. It’s been four years of blown deadlines. The cleanup of asbestos and other toxic materials was supposed to start happening almost two years ago. With the imminent arrival of the MGM casino last year the plan shifted to convert the building to a so-called “boutique” hotel with the MGM name.
In January of last year, Peter Picknelly was quoted as saying: “With the casino plans now moving ahead, a formal agreement between OPAL and MGM to move forward with the boutique hotel project is likely within the next 60 days.”
The city was excited by the OPAL project at first, but the bloom seems to be off the relationship. The agreement never was inked. When I visited Mayor Sarno’s office last week, the word on the hotel project was that the city had nothing to do with the (Court Square project). “It’s a matter between two private parties.” said a spokesman for the mayor.
Later I talked with Brian Connors, assistant director of the city’s development office, the man who has been meeting with Pantealakis. Any progress to report?
“No,” he said, “Nothing to report. Until they come up with a plan and the funding, the redevelopment authority has nothing to work with.” He was not a happy man.
Demetrios Panteleakis making a presentation before the