The city’s current plan is to re-zone the Lynch property as Business Highway and sell it to Colvest, who will demolish the building and build a parking lot, bank, and strip mall. Look across the street at the Rite Aid Plaza to get a sense of the buildings they own. That kind of construction is not built to last and it’s not pretty. It certainly adds no architectural or cultural value to our city. It will lead to increased traffic at an already very busy intersection - an issue that was raised repeatedly by City Councilors during the Frontier debates. We are against this plan for those reasons and because the city plans to sell the property to them for only 250,000. Back under the last deal, the property was encumbered to Frontier for 750,000 – so in just a few years the city has decided it can take a lot less for the property. We believe the city can do MUCH better.
What could happen instead with this property?
1. We need to deny the zone change, end the deal with Colvest, and hold out for a better commercial offer. The property has already been encumbered (legally promised to) Colvest by the city. So a zone change at this point automatically sees the sale go through. We do not want a zone change for this reason. But that doesn’t mean that the city will not see a better offer come through, especially as our economy continues to mend. We’ve already seen four offers. More will come.
2. The Planning Dept. needs to re-write the “Request for Proposal,” which currently signals that the City is only interested in its reuse as a gas station, strip mall, or fast food restaurant. We need to submit a new “RFP” to developers and remarket this proposal so it attracts other kinds of developers, especially housing developers.
When the city wanted to signal that it was open to selling this property, it followed the procedure it does in every case and created a “Request for Proposal,” or RPF, to explain the property and describe what they were looking for in terms of its re-use.
Very early in the RFP it says:
The site offers great access for Interstate 91 travelers and a convenient alternative to stopping in Springfield or Northampton.
This sentence suggests that the city is only open to tourist-themed destinations.
The City also seeks a use that will be a destination for out of town travelers as well as an attraction to area residents.
Again, 'destination' and 'attraction' are key words.
Ideally, a development would include a commercial use that complements the area. Automotive and drug‐store uses will not be considered by the City of Holyoke.
This is not the text one would expect to see if they intended the use to be residential, as most other surplus schools in other communities become.
3. The City could consider not remarketing Lynch and instead consider the property for its own municipal reuse as a school or for the Holyoke Public School’s Central Offices.
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