Let me be clear: I support the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center and am proud that it is here in Holyoke. Its very existence is an indicator of Holyoke’s unique attributes, including its location and access to affordable green energy. I also support Gateway City Arts and The Cubit for investing in the canal district. They are bringing big energy and innovative ideas to Race Street.
To imply that these three projects are the beginning of Holyoke’s revitalization is to miss a few key facts of our recent history. These three great projects are the result of nearly two decades of investment, experimentation, and evolution in downtown Holyoke.
We cannot talk about the arts community in Holyoke without mentioning the Canal Gallery, the first arts space in downtown Holyoke. Although it has had its challenges, it’s opened doors for so many artists and events in downtown Holyoke. We also can’t mention economic development or start-ups without talking about Open Square, which has been the biggest driver for new business in Ward 1 for nearly two decades. Open Square, too, has faced challenges over the years, but has weathered the storm. We continue to see new businesses locate there. Open Square is in a great position to benefit from surrounding investments.
We cannot discuss the idea of market rate housing or condos in these old mill buildings without mentioning 101 Cabot. This property has shown for nearly 20 years that people want to live and work in downtown Holyoke.
101 Cabot, Open Square, and Canal Gallery set the stage for Parsons Hall’s renovation into live/work and gallery space, and for Paper City Studios to arrive and present art shows that have drawn visitors by the hundreds. The Wauregan has become one of the most exciting investments in the area. It’s the new home for the Holyoke Creative Arts Center, a longstanding organization that continues to grow. Simple Diaper & Linen, the area’s only green laundry and diaper service and a successful woman-owned co-op, is located there, as well as BRICK, a shared work environment for local artists and business owners. You can see BRICK’s work on the latest phase of the Canal Walk.
All of these projects have been changing public and private perceptions about Holyoke for years, and are succeeding and thriving now. It’s a good sign that the Boston Globe is taking notice. They just need to dig back a little bit deeper to get the whole picture.