Springfield Planning Board slates hearing on Masonic Temple renovation proposal

Springfield Planning Board slates hearing on Masonic Temple renovation proposal

SPRINGFIELD The Planning Board has schedule a public hearing on Sept. 6 to consider a proposal for a major renovation of the former Masonic Temple on State Street. Officials have described it as the «dream come true» site for the Springfield Conservatory of the Arts, a public magnet school for grades 6 through 12.

The hearing was initially planned this week, but was postponed due to lack of a quorum. The Sept. at City Hall.

The Conservatory of the Arts has been split between two rented locations in Springfield. The new site, the long vacant Masonic Temple, is at 339 State St.

Frank A. DeMarinis and his firm, Sage Engineering Contracting Inc., of Westfield, owns the building. The city is finalizing a 10 year lease agreement for the building contingent on DeMarinis completing renovations.

DeMarinis is proposing a complete renovation of the six story, 85,380 square foot building, according to a Planning Department staff analysis report. He is asking for a Planning Board site plan review for re use of an existing building, not requiring a special permit.

In July, Lydia Martinez, assistant superintendent of schools, called the plans an «amazing dream come true.»

As a large, older historic building, «the staff is very pleased that a re use for this significant building has been proposed,» the staff report said.

The developer is proposing to renovate the building into classrooms, offices, library space, sound and recording space and lower level parking, the staff report said. In addition, there is an existing large auditorium on the fifth floor of the building that will be used as a performance space for the school, the report said.

To address parking issues, the developer is proposing to remove a rear section of the building that was built as an addition and is not part of the overall historic portion of the site, planning staff said. The developer is also proposing to construct a three tier parking structure in the rear of the building, the report said.

In addition, the Planning Board’s Sept. 6 agenda includes a hearing for a proposed zone change for a parcel located on the south side of Verge Street and the north side of Laconia Street. The applicant, Bretta Construction, is seeking a zone change from Residence A (single family) to Residence B (two family) for a plan to build four two family homes.