Baker, Polito tour project at Indian Motorcycle factory

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito toured the iconic Indian Motorcycle building in Mason Square that has switched from industrial, to residential on Thursday.

The Baker administration has been working to pass legislation since 2017 that they said will in part — make it easier for cities and towns to change building’s zoning to create projects like these.

Right now a zoning change requires a 2/3 majority vote. Baker’s proposal would change that requirement to a simple majority.

Baker told 22News, “Local officials, everybody who has got a piece of this puzzle, and they think our bill is the fastest way to create a lot of new housing in Massachusetts. Over 135,000 units over 5 years.”

The project in Mason Square will add 60 new affordable housing units to the property.

Baker said despite plenty of projects like these throughout the state, it isn’t enough to keep pace with the Massachusetts population. He said he thinks his bill could help turn around what he calls “terrible” housing shortages.

Eugene Brice, a veteran from Springfield, said long waiting lists for units has become all too common. He told 22News “It’s a long waiting list. Even for veterans, it is a long waiting list, and veterans have priority.

Brice argued, “Not enough space for veterans and their families, a lot of veterans are homeless on the streets, but there are a lot of vacant buildings around. If we can do more of what they’ve done here, it would be a home run for us.”

Polito and Baker are urging state lawmakers to take up their housing bill before their recess around Thanksgiving.

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