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    Peter Picknelly says Court Square hotel advances in partnership with MGM Springfield

    December 9, 2014

    SPRINGFIELD – Developer Peter A. Picknelly said Friday that a proposal to convert a vacant six-story building at Court Square to a boutique hotel is nearing reality and would not be possible without the involvement of MGM Springfield.

    Picknelly, the owner-developer of OPAL Real Estate Group, and Demetrios N. Panteleakis, OPAL’s chief operating officer, said they are excited about the plans for an approximately 120-room boutique hotel at the site at 13-31 Elm St. The project could cost $40 million, according to current estimates.

    Previously, OPAL was planning to convert the long-vacant site into an office building. The Republican and MassLive.com reported twice in recent months a hotel project was being considered in partnership with MGM.

    With the casino plans now moving ahead, a formal agreement between OPAL and MGM to move forward with the boutique hotel project is likely within the next 60 days, Picknelly said.

    “We are really excited about participating in this great project for Springfield,” Picknelly said. “My father always thought it was the best use. A boutique hotel without MGM would not be possible. It’s good to see his vision of years ago is now likely to come to fruition.”

    Representatives of OPAL are meeting with the Springfield Redevelopment Authority on Thursday to provide an update of its plans.

    The authority owns the vacant building and the attached Byers Block at 3-7 Elm St., while OPAL is the authority’s long-time “preferred developer” of the site.

    Picknelly’s father, Peter L. Picknelly, had advocated for a boutique hotel there before his death in 2004, but it was subsequently deemed unfeasible. The historic building originally a hotel followed by office uses over the years.

    Under a proposed agreement, MGM would manage the hotel and the hotel would be built to MGM specifications and under one of its hotel brand names, Panteleakis said.

    The extent of MGM’s support, including financial support, is part of the ongoing negotiations, Picknelly said.

    The Elm Street hotel site is just over a block away from the casino project, and is across the green from the Municipal Group buildings at Court Square.

    MGM is also planning a 250-room hotel within its casino development site as part of its $800 million development in the South End-downtown area.

    The Springfield Redevelopment Authority, in preparing to sell large hotel building, and Byers Block to OPAL, has notified the University of Massachusetts that its design center at the Byers Block and its upstairs rental apartments must be vacated by mid-January, according to authority and university officials.

    A university spokesman said the current plan is to move the design center at least temporarily to the UMass Center, a satellite facility at Tower Square in downtown Springfield. In addition, the apartment tenants are being assisted with relocation, the spokesman said.

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