Preparation work for the planned relocation of the First Spiritualist Church by MGM Springfield began this week. The historic church will be moved from its current location on Bliss Street to a new site, two blocks to the south, on Union Street, also within the casino footprint, according to MASS LIVE.

The property can be traced back to 1887 when it was built and known as the French Spiritualist Church and the First Spiritualist Society formed in Springfield in 1898. The property is being relocated to make way for MGM Resorts International’s $950 million casino project. For some casino development use in the future, the development will be kept within the three-block area.

The church is slated to be turned so that it faces Union Street behind the old state Armory. Construction workers have also started bracing the inside of the building, according to MGM Springfield. The move is tentatively scheduled to begin in April, with this initial work expected to last a few weeks.

The first major building to be demolished was the Alfred Zanetti School, in early January by JDC Demolitioin Co., Inc. of Boston, opening up space on the site’s 14-acres. At the beginning of February, Bliss Street was closed to also prepare for the casino’s parking garage, which under MGM’s updated design proposal, will include 3,375 garage and 86 surface spaces. Last month crews prepared the site to relocate the 129-year-old First Spiritualist Church and moved from Union Street to the planned retail plaza.

The Springfield City Council held several meetings during January and February to discuss site plans, including traffic concerns, concerns of owners of abutting properties, and design changes. Last month, some added conditions were negotiated between several abutting properties and MGM, with recommendations being added by the city’s Law Department and Department of Public Works.

According to the company, the project, spanning 3 million square feet, is expected to generate 4,000 jobs and 10 million total work hours. The MGM Springfield is anticipated to open in September of 2018.

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