‘It is going to happen’: Demolition finally on the horizon for vacant building near MGM casino, Caring Health Center

After years of delays, officials say demolition is near for a long-vacant, crumbling building adjacent to the Caring Health Center and across from the MGM Springfield casino. The plans for demolition proceed as the owner of 24 Park St., Louis Masaschi of Longmeadow, said he continues to plan a hotel for the site. Masaschi, owner of JLL Realty Developers, said this week the NorthStar Group of Everett has been hired for the demolition project and work is expected to begin within a month.

Amber Gould, the city’s associate city solicitor, said a Housing Court agreement from last August required demolition to be done by Dec. 2. That agreement set a fine of $100 for every day beyond the demolition deadline. The city did not issue fines because a new agreement is in progress, officials said.

Gould said she will file for an amended court order as soon as the contract and new deadline are finalized.

Vacant for over 40 years, the four-story building has deemed a public safety hazard. In 2019 a partial facade collapse sent bricks and debris falling into the street. No one was injured, but the city ordered temporary repairs to stabilize the site.

The delay in recent months were due to steps that needed to be taken to safeguard the Caring Health Center building during the demolition work, Gould said.

Dean J. Martilli, of Martilli & Associates, a consultant for the Caring Health Center, said all sides are in agreement that the four-story vacant building must come down soon, without any further delays.

“It is going to happen,” Martilli said Wednesday. “We just wanted the building down because it was a hazard to the community and to all of our patients, all of our employees, all of the people that would drive through Park Street. We just didn’t want anyone to be harmed.”

Belvidere Capital LLC, the mortgagee, is involved in ensuring that demolition proceed, said Gould and Martilli.

Based on an inspection last August, the city stated in court papers that the building “must be demolished” due to extensive damage and deterioration and broken structural elements that “present falling hazards on all sides.”

The building has also had problems with trespassers, officials said.

The vacant building is the site of the former Smith Carriage Co., and is part of the Smith Carriage Historic District.

Masaschi has proposed building a 117-room Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel at an estimated cost of $17 million.

After Masaschi bought the property in 2015, he sought city approval to demolish the building in 2016. The plan was blocked for nine months under historic protections for century-old buildings.

Masaschi said delays since then have included the demolition precautions needed for Caring Health Center, and communication challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Actual demolition work could take three to four weeks to complete, he said.

Masaschi and Martilli both praised Gould and Code Enforcement Commissioner Steven Desiltes for their efforts to get the building taken down safely.