Housing project close to opening in Springfield - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Housing project close to opening in Springfield

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As the city of Springfield continues to move forward from the 2011 tornado, signs of progress are showing up in the McKnight neighborhood.  That's where Mental Health Association - or MHA - is nearing completion of a their new housing project.

In June 2014, ground was broken on Magazine Commons in Springfield. 

The $4.5 million project is almost ready to replace the MHA facility that was destroyed on Union Street during the 2011 tornado.

"Those people needed to be relocated to other temporary housing and these are people from Springfield that we've been serving for many years," said MHA's President and CEO Joan Ingersoll.

Since 2011, MHA has worked with multiple partners to build the new 16-unit facility, including the city of Springfield, which sold the land for $1. 

While the multimillion dollar price tag on the new complex might seem a bit high, officials said there was a lot of work that needed to be done.

"We had to do a lot of environmental remediation in order to make this site safe.  It was a brownfields site and it was blighted, so to clean it up, it was very expensive," Ingersoll added.

MHA works with residents facing intellectual disabilities, homelessness, or substance abuse issues.  The ones who will call Magazine Commons home are also working with the Department of Mental Health.

"I was a real heavy drug addict and they helped me conquer drugs and alcohol," said Darnella Johnson of Springfield.

Johnson took a tour of the complex Tuesday.  She'll be living in one of the units and noted that it's the first time she'll have a brand new place to call home.

Joining Johnson was Vincent Littlejohn.  He's been involved with MHA since 1990.  He can't wait to move into the complex and hopes to make the most of this opportunity.

"This time, I want to make sure I do everything right, so I can stay at this place and hopefully make the best of this place here," Littlejohn explained.

After four years of planning and construction, the wait is almost over.  Officials said that they expect the grand opening of Magazine Commons in about six weeks.

Copyright 2015 Western Mass News  (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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