SPRINGFIELD — Christmas came early for Donald Mitchell, director of DM Renaissance Development, who received a $2.1 million Build Back Springfield grant from the city."This is one of the best Christmas gifts I've got in a long time," Mitchell said on Wednesday.This funding will allow Renaissance Development to begin to redevelop the old Kavanagh Building at 443 State St. that has been vacant since 2008 so it can be used as a commercial and residential space.Mitchell said this project is expected to create 30 affordable housing units. Each unit will have one bedroom.
Renaissance Development is also partnering with Mental Health Association, which plans to occupy some of the commercial space for its day program."We are also going to work with them to provide some affordable housing units for some of their residents," Mitchell told The Republican.Mitchell said this project, which costs approximately $8 million, will provide 30 to 40 construction jobs. Also, the remaining commercial space, which retailers can occupy, could create between 30 and 40 full- and part-time jobs.On Wednesday, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced the names of businesses and nonprofits who received awards during the city's eighth round distributing American Rescue Plan Act money.About $1.7 million went to 20 small business and nonprofits in awards ranging between $300,000 and $5,500.DM Renaissance Development is one of three companies to receive $3.27 million in Build Back Springfield grants, a program intended to assist in the redevelopment of historic properties in the city.Business owners such as Tommy Le, owner of Imperial Aquatics, also expressed gratitude for the $10,000 he was awarded during Wednesday's press conference.Le reflected on the struggles he faced keeping his exotic tropical fish safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.Although he was able to keep his business running, the funding he got will assist him in giving his customers the best shopping experience possible."Whether it be $100, 1,000, or $10,000, I will take anything that will keep the business afloat," Le said.
"I just want to keep a smile on everyone's faces and hopefully keep the business afloat for generations to come."Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno was ecstatic to let award recipients take the podium and express their gratitude but reminded the public that a thorough process and review of applications must take place before any awards are distributed."We adhere to all of the strict guidelines, rules and regulations of this federal grant," Sarno said. "There have been many fraudulent claims."Springfield's American Rescue Plan Act advisory committee reviewed a total of 20 applications from 14 small businesses and six nonprofits.
Fourteen of the recipients identify as either minority-owned, women-owned, or minority and women-owned.Additionally, 2,276 American Rescue Plan Act household applications have been processed and approved. Approximately $3.2 million has been awarded to residents and seniors.In total, around $90 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds have been awarded from the $123.8 million grant that was given to the city last year.The city is on track to achieve the federal requirement of having all the funds dispersed and allocated by 2024, according to a press release from the city.