West End Area-Wide Plan

The West End is an urban neighborhood in Chicopee Center in the southwestern corner of the city. The neighborhood, which is roughly 190 acres in size, is bordered by the Connecticut River (west), the Chicopee River (north) and Center Street (south/southeast). The neighborhood is physically divided by Interstate 391, which acts as a gateway to Chicopee Center and connects the neighborhood to the broader region. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the West End is called home by 1,351 Chicopee residents or 2% of Chicopee's total population.

Historically, the West End is one of the oldest industrial communities in the United States with the area's earliest factories constructed around 1820. Around 1830, the Dwight Canal was completed which provided water power and barge access for the rapidly expanding textile, munitions and shoe manufacturers. As the industrial base increased, a densely-built residential neighborhood grew toward the Center Street Corridor to serve the mill worker population. This blue-collar neighborhood of Irish, French-Canadian and Polish immigrants thrived for over a century.
Map of west end of Chicopee with border of study area highlighted
Beginning in the mid to late 1950's the West End has experienced an ongoing decline resulting from a number of economic challenges. As a once thriving employment center, Chicopee's downtown has suffered from many changes including the loss of manufacturing businesses, the closing of the West Springfield Bridge and development of the Holyoke Mall north of Chicopee. The West End has also not seen much investment in the form of new development in the last decade; nearly 90% of all housing units were built prior to 1940. Resulting from this multi-decade long decline, aging facilities and suburban competition, the neighborhood's residents have been left searching for environmental and economic alternatives.

The West End district contains a high concentration of known and suspected brownfields. The neighborhood is home to two percent of the city's population however it contains about 5.4% of all sites in Chicopee reported under the Commonwealth's voluntary clean-up program. Moreover, parcels containing known brownfields cover at least 20-25% of the neighborhood's land area, presenting a tremendous challenge and opportunity for revitalization efforts.

The following map locates each of the 15 known and/or suspected brownfields that have been studied as part of the area-wide planning process. Property summary sheets are also available.
Map of west end of Chicopee with brownfield sites highlighted
The Area-Wide Plan (AWP)
The West End Brownfields AWP seeks to reinvigorate and spark reinvestment in the West End by mitigating local environmental conditions at brownfields and re-branding the area as an attractive, green neighborhood where people can live, work, learn and play. Through realistic strategies and market-driven initiatives, it particularly aims to assess, clean up and return key West End Brownfields to productive use over the next 3 to 5 years. An overall market assessment identifies potential demand for industrial/commercial space and rental housing units, while identifying niche market commercial uses as well as appropriate target segments for mill building residences. The plan also addresses limitations in the neighborhood's infrastructure and recommends public improvements that will facilitate private property redevelopment in the West End.
Map of west end of Chicopee with focus areas highlighted
  • Advance the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of Brownfields
  • Create criteria and measures for success
  • Develop a phased implementation strategy with linked steps
  • Examine infrastructure capacities and recommend improvements
  • Improve the environment and human health
  • Provide realistic, market-based options for reuse/redevelopment initiatives
  • Support Brownfield funds and remediation programs
The West End Vision calls for the creation of a downtown neighborhood that is:
  • Affordable
  • Attractive
  • Distinctive
  • Healthy
  • Hip
  • Safe
This vision is based on market findings, public input, existing conditions and successful case studies of other Brownfields redevelopments across the Commonwealth.

The Cabotville Mill Complex and environs along Front Street are the priority Brownfield redevelopment sites and they are central to the phased Implementation Plan. Progress on redevelopment of Cabotville would encourage redevelopment of other Brownfields with longer-term market potential.

Noted as part of the plan, the revitalization of older urban centers should encompass a scale and development type that is distinctive from residential and commercial spaces available in suburban and rural locations within the area's larger geographic region. Older urban centers appeal to businesses and residents who desire an environment that offers distinctive buildings and spaces, walkable streets, density and amenities that cannot be replicated in other city neighborhoods or suburban areas, all qualities the West End exhibits.