SPRINGFIELD — General Manager Victor Oundjian looks out through the giant plate-glass windows of Lorilil Jewelers’ new location on south Main Street and sees people coming and going from MGM Springfield.
He sees a “whole new customer base” both here and at his main store in Tower Square a few blocks north.
He also sees empty storefronts surrounding his new MGM-adjacent store — empty storefronts where MGM and its boosters promised increased commercial activity surrounding the “inside-out” casino designed to integrate itself, and its customers, with the neighborhood.
“I ask myself every time I walk there,” Oundjian said. “Why isn’t anyone moving there. That’s like the million-dollar question.”
Or the $960 million question. That’s how much MGM Resorts International spent developing the casino in Springfield’s South End with the promise of spurring business development in the neighborhood. The casino opened a year ago, Aug. 24, 2018.
Some development is in progress around the South End but hasn’t materialized yet.
MGM’s real estate partner, Davenport Companies, is building a $2 million CVS store in its Davenport Square site across Main Street from the casino. Balise Auto Group is building a $6 million Mazda dealership on property it has acquired over the years adjacent to its Hyundai dealership. And there are hotel and apartment proposals for the old York Street Jail site, where city development efforts have been frustrated for years.
Some merchants in the area report few, if any, new customers from the casino.
“In a week maybe we see 10 new faces,” said Rico C. Daniele of Mom & Rico’s Specialty Market. “It’s not like I expected.”
He blamed the underwhelming impact in the local business district on a lack of cooperation between MGM and the neighborhood. One example: The Loop shuttle bus service doesn’t stop on his section of Main Street.
Cigarettes are expensive in the MGM Springfield gift shop, said David Glantz, owner of Buckeye Bros. tobacco and lottery shop on Main Street, where smokes sell for the state minimum. He said he sees his share of casino customers.
“I think it’s a great thing for downtown Springfield. It’s the biggest economic development that ever happened in the city,” Glantz said. “Thought there would be more economic spinoff, especially with restaurants and bars.”
Glantz said the neighborhood could use a Ninety-Nine or a Chili’s, familiar chain restaurants that appeal to out-of-towners. He said he’s heard that landlords have high asking prices for property near the casino, preferring to let it sit empty rather than come down in price.
The layout of MGM Springfield, with its outdoor plaza concert space and doors that open out onto the street, was meant to boost the impact the casino, and its crowds, have on Springfield.
“I know the casino industry is looking at Springfield as an interesting experiment,” said Karl Petrick, associate professor of economics at Western New England University.
“The idea was this was going to push patrons out to local restaurants. Like Red Rose, etc.,” Petrick said. “Other than beautifying Main Street, I don’t know if a lot of patrons are spilling out of the casino looking for places to eat, etc.”
- [LLODO] Michigan state Dem pepper-sprayed, charged with DUI, resisting arrest, weapons possession: report
- [LLODO] Head of NYC’s posh Dalton School leaving at the end of 2021
- [LLODO] Chilling video captures moment a love triangle erupts in murder, revenge in NYC
- [LLODO] NYPD officers hit with Molotov cocktail and liquid chemical in face, police say
- [LLODO] California group files federal civil rights complaint over San Diego school district’s ‘racist’ teachings
- [LLODO] Podcast helped in hunt for 1996 killer of California student
- [LLODO] National weather forecast: Parts of Northeast could see more than a foot of snow
- [LLODO] Cuomo boasts he ‘invented’ NYS-scented hand sanitizer, faces no questions over scandals
- [LLODO] Teacher who decried NYC school’s ‘indoctrination’ put on remote work: ‘Feels like punishment’