AC Produce adds parking, improves look anticipating MGM Springfield

MassLive, September 6, 2017, by Jim Kinney

South End favorite AC Produce will demolish an adjacent three-family home in the next few weeks, making way for more parking as the business preps for MGM Springfield’s opening about a year from now.

AC Produce owner Antonio Calabrese said he bought the home at 16 Rutledge Ave. with an eye toward his future needs. He plans to park delivery trucks there and free up spaces closer to the building for customers.

Hampden Registry of Deeds records show the home, built in 1895, sold to Calabrese’s real estate entity, 457 Main Street LLC, for $110,000 in 2013.

He also owns the adjacent retail strip at 457 Main, Calabrese said.

Calabrese is also in the early stages of renovating the AC Produce and AC’s Main Street Market building at 487 Main St. with a new facade, windows and signage. The project is out to bid with potential contractors.

He said he wants to improve the face the business shows to the public and make the building more welcoming to passersby.

He expects work to begin on the new building facade in early 2018.

“Well, we have a $900 million neighbor coming in,” he said. “We have to be ready.”

He’s referencing, of course, the MGM Springfield casino project a few blocks away. Calabrese has been a longtime supporter of the project and has applied to be the casino resort’s produce supplier

Founded in 1998 and now with 19 employees, AC Produce distributes to restaurants in 40- to 50-mile radius, Calabrese said.

The retail grocery market and deli already gets very busy at lunchtime, he said. Often, potential customers cruise around looking for a place to park.

MGM Springfield will mean more customers, he said, not so much because of its visitors but because of its employees who will be encouraged to live in the neighborhood. They’ll need a place to shop, Calabrese said.

“We are seeing it now with the MGM executives who are already stationed here,” he said. “They come in on weekends. They’ve moved here and are looking for ways to connect with the community.”