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Proposed Worcester Urban Revitalization Plan Now Available for Public Review

For Immediate Release: 4/20/2016 10:27 am

Worcester, MA (April 20, 2016) - The City of Worcester’s proposed Urban Revitalization Plan is now available for public view on the city’s website. The plan can be accessed here.

The overall objective of the plan is to create an environment that has a strong identity and sense of place within Worcester – particularly downtown and its surrounds. A strong downtown will significantly benefit the city and the region by offering business opportunities, jobs, and a healthy local economy.

The plan has been developed over the past year by the City of Worcester and Worcester Redevelopment Authority, in conjunction with consultant BSC Group, with significant public input. A Citizen Advisory Committee, made up of 15 representatives of the community, helped shape the plan over the course of 10 public meetings.

The WRA will host a public hearing on the plan at 5:30 p.m. May 5, at the DCU Center. After the hearing, the plan will need approval from the Worcester City Council and the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

There are currently 26 active or recent Urban Renewal Projects in Massachusetts.

Downtown Worcester has undergone a major transformation over the last 10 years, and major economic development projects are proposed, ongoing, or completed. These include CitySquare, Mercantile Center, WRTA hub at Union Station, renovation of the DCU Center, the Hanover Theatre and its ongoing expansion at 551 Main Street, 20 Franklin Street - rehabilitation of the former T&G building, MCPHS, Becker, and QCC investment, and over $10 million in streetscape, infrastructure and open space improvements.

But pockets of downtown have lagged behind for years. The plan identifies 24 properties that have traditionally seen a lack of investment:

  • Brownfields that have been vacant for 20+ years.
  • Upper floors of downtown buildings that have remained vacant for 20+ years.
  • Property owners that have not updated infrastructure and their buildings are in need of a substantial upgrade – one they cannot afford.
  • Obsolete buildings that the private sector is not willing to invest in to redevelop.

A number of options are possible for each property:

  • Rehabilitate substandard structures
  • Undertake site preparation and environmental remediation
  • Assemble and dispose of land for private development
  • Relocate displaced businesses
  • Complete public infrastructure improvements
  • Demolish substandard structures for new construction
  • Acquire land, including through eminent domain by WRA

The plan contains provisions for the relocation of businesses in affected properties. Letters were delivered last week to property and business owners inside the plan area, informing them of the May 5 public hearing.

The potential total value of the plan, which includes the cost of all public infrastructure upgrades, in-kind services, potential acquisitions, demolitions, and relocation of businesses, is $104 million.

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