Pieces of the Puzzle Coming Together in Holyoke

Published: April 26, 2016 / Source: Business West


Marcos Marrero stands across the lower canal from a planned condo
project that he says will offer “beachfront property.”


As he talked about Holyoke and the broad economic-development plan he put in place for it when he became mayor just over four years ago, Alex Morse listed a number of key strategic planks in that platform.

They include everything from improving and broadening the housing stock, especially with market-rate options that would attract young professionals, to programs that would encourage entrepreneurship; from public investments aimed at spurring private development to a focus on expanding the creative economy; from public-private partnerships to bolstering the hospitality industry.

And for evidence of progress in all those realms, he pointed (figuratively, although he could also have done so literally from a window in his office in City Hall) to the many developments taking place on — or that can been seen from — Race Street.

Indeed, that north-south artery that runs along what’s known as the lower canal in this gateway city, famous for its legacy of paper making, represents a microcosm of the progress Holyoke has seen in recent years, said Morse, and the promise it holds for the future.

Along a three-block stretch, one can see perhaps the best example of the creative economy in motion in the Gateway City Arts venture, a mixed-use property that will soon feature a new restaurant. Moving south, one encounters the aptly named Cubit building (that’s the shape it takes), which will soon house Holyoke Community College’s Culinary Arts program on the first and second floors and residential space on the third and fourth floors, in an ambitious public-private partnership.