November 29, 2018

Worcester cancels plan to expand Canal District improvement plan beyond ballpark

Photo | Courtesy
A rendering of the new home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, soon to be the Worcester Red Sox.

Worcester is amending the size of an urban renewal plan modification to include only those properties essential to a $101 million ballpark development for the Pawtucket Red Sox after concern other properties could be acquired or demolished.

The original amendment, unveiled last week as part of a Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) filing, included 33 additional parcels and slated 18 additional buildings for demolition that aren't a part of the original urban renewal plan.

In a Thursday press release from the city, only seven properties are slated for acquisition: 50 Washington St., 90 Washington St., 62 Washington St., 69 Washington St., 127 Washington St., 134 Madison St. and 2 Plymouth St.

The city said the expedited process of expanding the urban renewal plan to meet project schedules included those required for the ballpark as well as other properties in the area to highlight their highest and best uses to prompt further investment, which it said is a strategy in line with the 2016 urban renewal plan.

"It's unfortunate that the MEPA filing did not allow adequate time for the the City to engage the public in this process and did not afford our residents and business owners an opportunity to review and respond to the amendment," City Manager Edward Augustus said in a statement.

The Worcester Redevelopment Authority and City Council will be presented with only the properties required to move construction forward and some vacant land adjacent to the ballpark.

"We want to be deliberate and transparent throughout this process," Augustus said. "We will continue to have community discussions and public input to future proposed amendments to the urban revitalization plan in order to spotlight properties for development opportunities and improve the quality of life in the neighborhood."

On Tuesday, Augustus said the proposed Urban Renewal Plan expansion includes an additional 21 acres and 33 properties. A total of 21 buildings -- 18 more than originally thought -- were slated for possible demolition or renovation.

The original plan stopped along the vacant Wyman-Gordon site, which is the primary property on which the project is planned. The amendment stretches that boundary about a block to the east from Washington Street to Green Street and Kelley Square and nearly 10 parcels of the southern side of Lamartine Street.


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