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MGM to Build $800 Million Casino-Retail District

MGM to Build $800 Million Casino-Retail District

MGM Resorts International, recognized for iconic Las Vegas casino resort projects such as MGM Grand, the Mirage and Bellagio, is taking its brand to Massachusetts.

The company recently unveiled plans to develop an $800 million world-class dining, retail and entertainment district on about 10 acres of land heavily damaged by the June 2011 tornado in downtown Springfield.

MGM's Springfield plan envisions a revived Main Street area with people walking along vibrant tree-lined streets overflowing with restaurant choices, a variety of shopping options for everyone in the family, an outdoor stage, movie theaters, a casino and hotel that all seamlessly blend into the area's existing historic architecture.

The concept for a central downtown retail and entertainment district also includes a pedestrian bridge between the MGM project and the MassMutual Center.

The announcement came as MGM submitted its $400,000 application fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The non-refundable application fee will go to both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Springfield to fund the vetting and negotiating process that MGM hopes will result in a world-class destination resort in Springfield.

While the new Massachusetts gaming law does not require that the application fee be submitted until later this year when the first MGC filing is due, MGM issued its check early, along with its certification of intent to apply, as a good faith sign of MGM's commitment to Springfield.

"We believe this is a significant demonstration of our desire to partner with Springfield and it gives the MGC and the city the resources they need to move forward during this groundbreaking phase for a new industry in Massachusetts," said MGM chairman/CEO Jim Murren.

The MGM Springfield project would be developed on three city blocks located just 200 feet off Interstate 91, a popular North/South connector running from Connecticut to Vermont, only a few miles from the Massachusetts Turnpike. The blocks, where the devastation from last year's tornado is still visible today, run between Union and State streets, and Columbus Avenue and Main Street. MGM controls several land parcels in the proposed development area, with many others under contract.

MGM Springfield would create thousands of permanent direct jobs as well as more than 2,000 construction-related jobs and thousands of additional indirect jobs. MGM Springfield would generate millions in annual tax revenues.

"Ours is a vision rooted in partnerships that would increase tourism by elevating the level of dining, retail and entertainment not only within the MGM project area but hopefully opening onto Main Street, throughout Downtown Springfield and into the rest of this great city," Murren said.

MGM is hoping to partner with the City of Springfield and others on this renaissance project to help rebuild and revitalize Downtown Springfield in the aftermath of the tornado that heavily damaged many Downtown Springfield buildings. Springfield, the region's cultural epicenter on the Connecticut River, is home to world-class museums, the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Springfield Symphony, the MassMutual Center and several well-known academic institutions.

The more than half-million square foot mixed-used development project would include a 25-story 250-room hotel with world-class amenities including a spa, pool and roof deck; 89,000 square feet of gaming space; about 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space that would accommodate 15 shops and restaurants; and a multi-level parking garage.

Plans also envision an approximately 130,000 square-foot dining, retail and entertainment district, tentatively named Armory Square, and directly accessible from the garage parking. It would include about 25 high-energy dining and retail venues including a 12-screen cinema, bowling alley and outdoor stage, to be developed by Davenport Properties of Boston,  in partnership with MGM on land now occupied by the tornado-ravaged South End Community Center and Howard Street School. MGM in conjunction with Davenport hopes to be the successful bidder for those parcels when the city auctions them later this year.

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