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Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) District

Hanover Theatre at night

Project History

In December 2014, MassDevelopment announced the designation of 10 Gateway City districts identified for enhanced assistance through its Transformative Development Initiative (TDI). Worcester's Theatre District, the focus area for the Theatre District Master Plan, was named as one of the original TDI districts. TDI districts are eligible to receive enhanced technical assistance, small business grants, strategic real estate investments and additional staff capacity to support local visions for redevelopment and to catalyze and leverage investments and economic activities. The TDI district designation in the Theatre District ended in June 2018. In May 2018, MassDevelopment announced a new two-year TDI district in Worcester's Main South neighborhood.

At a Glance

Home to two colleges and 2,200 residents, Worcester's Theatre District has blossomed in recent years. The area includes 94 ground-floor retail spaces, the Hanover Theatre draws 200,000 patrons annually and the Grid District has added several dining options. The Printer's Building has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation and is now a hub of innovation with occupants such as Technocopia, ArtsWorcester, Davis Publishing, WICN Radio and Worcester Clean Tech Incubator.

Though the TDI engagement in the Theatre District was time-limited, the partnership planned for long-term sustainability of district improvement activities by establishing a Downtown Business Improvement District, or "BID." TDI technical assistance and MassDevelopment staff supported this process.

In addition, the TDI Partnership has achieved many more milestones:

  • Award of a TDI "Local Lift" grant to fund a Theatre District Placemaking Kit.
  • MassDevelopment purchase of 526 Main Street (Money Stop) for complementary redevelopment.
  • Creation of the Theatre District Alliance.
  • Award of a TDI Placemaking Grant to support the inaugural Worcester Local Weekend Kickoff.
  • Organization of the first-ever Theatre District Block Party.
  • Small Business Workshop Series - "Let's Put Worcester on the Map"

Looking Forward: Main South District

Worcester's current TDI district is located in Main South, one of the City's most diverse neighborhoods. Situated on a five-block stretch of Main Street, the district is about a half-mile from City Hall to the north and Clark University's campus to the south, and acts as a gateway for those traveling to downtown Worcester and the Webster Square neighborhood. Main South has a long and proud history as home to much of Worcester's blue-collar working class; splendid Victorian structures coexist with traditional triple-deckers that were built to house the workforce once employed in nearby industrial facilities. Aiming to bridge the success seen downtown, the TDI Partnership's vision is to engage local business and property owners, organize a business association and develop strategic reuse plans for vacant sites to help Main South become a walkable and vibrant neighborhood. The partners in the Main South TDI District include: The City of Worcester, the YMCA of Central Massachusetts, Clark University, Emmanuel Baptist Church and Main South CDC. This TDI Partnership has already achieved many milestones in its designation so far:

  • Creation and organization of the Main South Business Association (MSBA).
  • Award of a TDI "Local Lift" grant to help local businesses improve their facades.
  • Award of a TDI "Local Launch" grant to build business leader capacity through events that activate public spaces and increase foot traffic.
  • Organization of Fan Plan neighborhood meetings to discuss the relocation of the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester.
  • "Back-to-School Fiesta" hosted by the MSBA in Fuller Park to engage local business owners with the community; 100 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated to children in 1st through 5th grade and free haircuts were provided.

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