Springfield is getting a new hotel, along with an indoor rock climbing and skydiving facility — and it all will be built on the site of a historic former jail.
Shardool Parmar, president of the family-owned and operated Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, said the Springfield-based company plans to build a 10- to 11-story, 130-room hotel with a restaurant and a rooftop lounge that overlooks the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Springfield skyline on West Columbus Avenue. The hotel will be comprised of only suites, said Parmar, who said he is not sure yet what brand the hotel will be but that it will be a nationally-recognized one.
The 3.5 acres of land along the Connecticut River and adjacent to I-91 was the former location of the York Street Jail, which was demolished by the city in 2008. The historic jail, which opened in 1887, was the site of the last legal hanging in Massachusetts, in 1898, and is featured in the 1996 film “Before and After” with Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep, according to The Hartford Courant. It closed in 1992.
More recently, the site has been used as a staging area for local construction projects, Parmar said, but those projects are complete.
A separate building on the same site will house both indoor rock climbing and skydiving.
“Indoor skydiving has been a sport that’s gaining more and more interest,” Parmar said. “We felt that, in this area, where we do have a great deal of tourism, that we needed another attraction.”
To indoor skydive, Parmar said that guests essentially enter a big cylinder full of air.
“The air is blown from the bottom and suspends the person. It creates the element of skydiving,” he said. “It makes you feel like you are falling and you are held up by air. The air is generated by these large electric fans.”
Parmar said construction on the $37 million project will begin in late winter or early spring of 2020.
Pioneer Valley Hotel Group also owns La Quinta Inn & Suites in Springfield, the Holiday Inn Express in Ludlow, and the Hampton Inn, Roadway Inn, and Hadley Farms Meeting House Banquet Center, all in Hadley. It will open a Homewood Suites by Hilton in Hadley next month, Parmar said.