SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - We've been hearing about Union Station's renovation for years now. The 22News I-Team discovers why a piece of this $78 million project could be contingent on one casino.
Union Station is expected to re-open in 2015, but Peter Pan Bus Lines may not be a part of it.
"The quick answer is no", said Peter Pan Bus Lines owner Peter Picknelly at a casino site committee meeting Tuesday night, when asked if he plans to move his bus company if Penn National Gaming is not awarded a casino license.
Peter Picknelly owns Peter Pan Bus Lines and is a 50-50 partner with Penn National Gaming in Springfield. Union Station has been closed for 30 years. A $78 million federal project Congressman Richard Neal says has the potential to transform downtown Springfield is expected to re-open in 2015. Together, Peter Pan Bus Lines, the Pioneer Valley Transportation Authority and train service were intended to help revitalize Union Station.
"Union Station needs to come online and an integral part of that is the commitment from Peter Pan to do that", says Springfield City Councilor Melvin Edwards.
The 22News I-Team obtained copies of a letter of interest Peter Picknelly sent to the Springfield Redevelopment Authority in March and again in June to occupy significant space in Union Station.
At a casino site committee meeting in Springfield Tuesday night, Councilor Edwards asked Picknelly about his commitment to the Union Station project. Picknelly said that no deal is finalized.
"We want Union Station to take place, however the city can not expect us to move across the city and pay rent to another entity and have a vacant piece of property", says Picknelly.
In the letter's of interest, Picknelly did state that he was prepared to negotiate financial terms of a potential lease.
"When he made his presentation last night (Tuesday) he was moving in as a part of a license of a casino", says Edwards.
Picknelly did say that if Penn National is awarded the western Massachusetts casino license Peter Pan Bus Lines will move into Union Station.
"This casino proposal is an excellent reuse of that property. If a casino happens we will absolutely move our property in", says Picknelly
Both MGM and Penn National have plans to occupy space in Union Station if either wins the casino license.
MGM Springfield sent 22News this statement, ""A revitalized Union Station continues to be a is a key priority and significant part of our proposal," said Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts President and Chief Marketing Officer and President of MGM Springfield. "Plans call for that landmark to become MGM Springfield's headquarters for a regional operations office and a centralized training facility."
Springfield's director of Economic Development Kevin Kennedy told 22News the city will do the right thing for Union Station and the right thing for the casino.
"The redevelopment of Union Station has been a priority of Congressman Neal's for many years. He has always believe the successful renovation of that historic structure has the potential to transform downtown Springfield. It will also be a modern transportation center serving all of western Massachusetts. That $78 million project is schedule to be completed in 2015, and he does not anticipate any delays," said William Tranghese, spokesperson for Congressman Richard E. Neal."
Video of the Springfield Casino site committee was provided by FOCUS Springfield, video by Chris Stone and John Krstyen.