Worcester Approves $583M City Square

found5dollar

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Hutchison

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Considering they are still trying to figure out how to reuse the old courthouse and the Worcester Memorial Auditorium (both have been put out to bid and come up empty) I wouldn't hold my breath. If the State ends up transferring the courthouse to the city for $1 as proposed, the city may eventually be able to dump it for rehab. Either way, I'd think City Square, the courthouse, and the auditorium all rank above reuse of the higgins building for the city due to their proximity to downtown.
 

meddlepal

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I think someone from NYC should buy it, slice it up and ship it down there and reassemble it somewhere as an artists space.

The money to maintain that thing isn't in Worcester.
 

davem

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I think someone from NYC should buy it, slice it up and ship it down there and reassemble it somewhere as an artists space.

The money to maintain that thing isn't in Worcester.
The funny thing is you could probably do what you suggested and still make money in NYC.
 

found5dollar

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you have to go through google to see that article....

http://www.telegram.com/article/20131122/NEWS/311229520/1116
Proposal detailed for CitySquare
HOTEL, HOUSING AND RETAIL PLANL UNVEILED

Aerial view of the CitySquare redevelopment project site in downtown Worcester. Proposed site of the Marriott hotel is visible between the former Notre Dame church and the People's United bank building. (T&G Staff/RICK CINCLAIR)

By Nick KotsopoulosTELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

WORCESTER — The developer of CitySquare is proposing a next phase of private development downtown that calls for construction of a full-service, 150-room hotel, a 350-unit, market-rate residential development and 15,000-square feet of retail space.

City Manager Michael V. O'Brien said Friday those private project elements of the CitySquare development will then trigger the release of public funds to design and construct a 550-space underground public parking garage there.

Meanwhile, beyond the northern edge of the downtown plans to build a $10 million, 100-room Hampton Inn at Gateway Park at 65 Prescott St. have been revived and reworked, after the original financing plans for that project failed to win approval of the City Council Economic Development Committee earlier this year.

The combined investment of the development for CitySquare and Gateway Park exceeds $120 million, according to city officials.

But city officials made it clear that everything is contingent upon tax-increment financing deals, more commonly known as TIFs, being approved for each of the two hotels.

"Tax relief is essential to overcome the financial hurdles inherent in developing a new hotel," said Timothy J. McGourthy, the city's chief development officer.

"One hotel will not proceed without the construction of the other; if the (TIF) applications for both hotels are not approved, neither can be constructed and, as a result, the next phase at CitySquare will not move forward at this time," he added.

The same company (XSS LLC) that would build the Hampton Inn at Gateway Park would also build the hotel at CitySquare. XSS has built and operates two hotels in Worcester — Courtyard by Marriott on Grove Street and Residence Inn off Plantation Street.

One of its affiliates, Worcester Renaissance Hotel LLC, would lease land from CitySquare II Development Co. LLC in the part of the CitySquare development site known as "Building E" and build a Renaissance by Marriott Hotel there, according to Mr. O'Brien.

That area is the last standing remnant of the old Worcester Common Outlets mall and is located adjacent to 120 Front St, at Front and Trumball streets.

Mr. McGourthy said preliminary design plans for the hotel include a pool, fitness room, a business center and meeting rooms.

He said it would also include a 6,000-square-foot restaurant that would include service for lunch and dinner.

Mr. McGourthy said the total estimated cost of the hotel at CitySquare is about $36 million, which includes $27 million in hard construction costs, $4.15 million in soft construction costs and $4.15 million in furniture, fixtures and equipment.

The permitting process for that hotel is expected to begin in the spring, with construction scheduled to get under way in spring 2015. It is projected to open in late summer 2016 and create 90 new, permanent full-time jobs and an average of 150 full-time construction jobs.

That, combined with the hotel at Gateway Park, would add 250 hotel rooms in the city, according to city officials.

Mr. O'Brien said the additional hotel rooms would allow Worcester to attract more and larger conventions and events to the DCU Center.

In addition, upon the completion of TIFs for both hotels, city officials said they would generate more than $1,000,000 combined in new tax revenues annually.

"More hotel rooms will act as a catalyst for additional restaurant and retail opportunities," Mr. O'Brien said. "There is no doubt in my mind this is a win-win situation."

Meanwhile, Mr. McGourthy said CitySquare II is in conversations with a residential developer to create a $60 million residential project with 350 units of market-rate housing and approximately 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

"The residential project will only move forward with the added area vitality deriving from the proposed hotel," Mr. McGourthy said. "These two private projects, therefore, are dependent on one another."

He said the private elements of the development would then produce the tax revenues necessary to construct the next public element of the CitySquare project — a $28 million, 550-space underground public parking garage.

Mr. McGourthy said the residential/retail components are crucial to triggering the funding and construction of the underground public parking garage.

"Without the two private components moving forward, the public project elements cannot be achieved and the garage will not move to construction," he said.

To facilitate the proposed development, Mr. O'Brien is recommending changes to the District Improvement Financing District and General Development Agreement for CitySquare.

He has also submitted to the council the proposed TIF deals for the two hotel projects.

"Each of these is inextricably linked to the other," the manager said.

To make the hotel project feasible, Mr. McGourthy said the hotel developer (Worcester Renaissance Hotel LLC), is seeking a 10-year TIF that would generate a $4 million tax savings over the term of the deal.

Upon its completion, the city would realize an estimated $770,000 annually in real estate tax revenues from the hotel at CitySquare.
 

found5dollar

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They just passed the TIF.

also the is a positive article about worcester turn around from the boston globe.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/12/10/worcester-turn-around/l09XCoLmvidqHSvHwEfhgO/story.html

The comeback of Worcester’s downtown
By Paul McMorrow
December 10, 2013

Cities struggle when they’re built like doughnuts, with plenty of residents and office workers clustered on the periphery, and hollow space filling the center. This is the problem that CitySquare, Worcester’s half-billion dollar downtown makeover, tries to correct. As it does, Worcester has been remaking its downtown in other, equally significant ways.

CitySquare’s sheer size and ambition tend to overshadow everything else that happens in downtown Worcester. That project does deserve all the attention it gets. When CitySquare broke ground three years ago, it was the largest post-urban-renewal downtown revitalization project in the state’s history. CitySquare will replace a twice-failed mall from the 1970s with 20 acres of new offices, apartments, retail shops, streets, and sidewalks. The development site sits in the center of Worcester’s downtown, and the city’s broader downtown turnaround can’t succeed without new life emerging at the site of the old mall.

A generation ago, construction crews plunked the original mall on top of several existing streets, turning the stretch between Worcester’s main drag and its commuter rail station into a network of sketchy urban cul-de-sacs. Contractors have already leveled the old mall and rebuilt streets lost to 1970s-style urban renewal.

For all the importance of re-linking the city’s rail hub and its urban core, Worcester’s downtown turnaround isn’t just about remaking the neighborhood’s physical space. It’s less about the streets themselves, than it is about changing who’s downtown. On this front, CitySquare can’t, and won’t, go it alone.

Worcester is a young city. It’s a college town. Boston and Cambridge are college towns, too, and they’ve become economic powerhouses by harnessing their college-educated youth, who eat and drink and work and start new companies in the urban core. Worcester’s colleges haven’t had the same sort of transformative effect, because they’re clustered around, not in, the urban core. That’s changing now. The emergence of Worcester’s collegiate downtown is as big as anything happening at CitySquare.

Modern downtowns need hotel visitors and permanent residents.

Quote Icon

An industrial park at the northern edge of Worcester’s downtown used to draw comparisons to Chernobyl. Now, where acres of highly contaminated factories once stood, Gateway Park has brought the Worcester Polytechnic Institute off its hillside campus, and into the downtown. Gateway Park mixes WPI classrooms with private office space and startup incubator space. Dormitories stand next to a private hotel. Across the street, a former high school is being converted to mixed-income loft apartments.

WPI’s presence has turned a former urban industrial wasteland into a burgeoning mixed-use district. It’s the same type of spinoff development Cambridge has built around MIT for years; it works just as well off I-290 as it does at Broadway in Kendall Square.

Development linked to urban colleges surrounds the CitySquare construction site. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, which once had only a handful of Worcester students, has grown its presence downtown to over 1,000 students. The school has plans to double that figure in the coming years. Becker College, a leader in video game design, has begun housing some of its students downtown. Quinsigamond Community College is opening a major new downtown campus in the former home of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Taken together, these moves have poured thousands of new bodies into Worcester’s downtown, for up to 18 hours per day. They’ve enlivened city sidewalks and provided a boost to downtown retailers. This is the same game plan that Boston used, through Emerson College and Suffolk University, to reanimate the once-dead Downtown Crossing. Of course, reanimating the downtown, and getting new residents and shoppers to buy into the downtown, is the goal CitySquare is working toward.

CitySquare has already delivered a new street grid and a pair of commercial buildings, including a new headquarters for the insurer Unum. The office workers are nice to have, but it’s the development project’s next phase that’s a game-changer for Worcester’s downtown. A financing proposal that would enable the construction of a 150-room hotel and a 350-unit apartment complex at CitySquare is currently pending before Worcester’s city council. Modern downtowns — neighborhoods that don’t go dark at 5 p.m. — need hotel visitors and permanent residents. CitySquare is closing in on them because the project doesn’t have to be a pioneer. There’s already momentum to draft behind.
Paul McMorrow is an associate editor at Commonwealth Magazine. His column appears regularly in the Globe.
 

meddlepal

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Except they've just about done everything wrong with the CS project. All that new development? Dead ground floors - absolutely no reason to be down there unless you're working and when you're not working you just want to get to your car. The whole area looks like it belongs in an office park now. They replaced one dead zone with another.
 

found5dollar

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^ ah.... have you been to Worcester lately? there are 2 new buildings built so far and no plans released for the next ones. The Unnumn building had a loby and the Hospital building acts and any hospital building. The reconnected Front street has no new buildings on it yet. Of course it is currently a dead zone with no ground floor retail. There are no building to have a ground floor yet. Lets wait untill the plans for the next two buildings come out before we decry "dead ground floors! dead zone! its a failure!"
 

meddlepal

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I have and I know Worcester more intimately than I probably really want to or should. I do not have confidence in the City of Worcester to do anything right.
 

found5dollar

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"confidence" has nothing to do with it. Please leave preconceived notions of a city at the door and look at the facts. There has been mad amounts of investment in the downtown core over the past decade and it shows. The activity on the common now between the Summer concert and film series and the skating rink in the winter have greatly increased the visibility of the area. The connection back to the train station makes it much more of a viable space.
 

found5dollar

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Also this:

http://www.wbjournal.com/article/20131217/NEWS01/131219960/1002


A rendering of the CitySquare site. The $28 million, 158-room Renaissance by Marriott Hotel will occupy the site in purple, while a $60 million, 350-unit market rate housing complex would occupy the site in orange. In 2013, Saint Vincent moved into the site in light pink and Unum moved into the site in yellow.

Council OKs Tax Breaks For 2 Worcester Hotels
Michael Novinson

The City Council unanimously approved tax breaks Tuesday for a $38 million project to build two Downtown area hotels -- a Renaissance by Marriott at CitySquare and a Hampton Inn at Gateway Park.

The 158-room Renaissance by Marriott would create the equivalent of 90 full-time jobs, according to plans filed by the developers, while the 100-room Hampton Inn would create 30 full-time equivalent positions.

The city's economic development committee approved the tax increment financing (TIF) agreement Monday night, sending it to the full council for a vote.

"I wasn't 100 percent happy with it (the TIF), but I was a pragmatist," Councilor Frederick Rushton, chair of the economic development committee, told the council Tuesday. "Ultimately, people do want to see downtown become an 18-hour city."

Developer Colwen Management already manages the Residence Inn and Courtyard by Marriot in Worcester, and said it would only move forward with construction if both the Renaissance and Hampton Inn were approved.

Rooms at the Renaissance would average $150 per night, and the hotel would offer 6,400 square feet of meeting space, a restaurant serving lunch and dinner, a breakfast lounge and bar, a pool and a fitness center. Sixty-one of the hotel's employees are expected to make $20,000 to $30,000 annually, 12 would make roughly $30,000 annually, six would earn $40,000 to $50,000 each year, and 11 would make $50,000 to $100,000 annually, according to Colwen.

The 10-year TIF for the Renaissance calls for a $325,000 annual payment for each of the first five years, with payments escalating by $50,000 for each of the last five years. Construction is slated to begin on the corner of Front and Trumbull streets in spring 2015, with the Renaissance scheduled for a late summer 2016 opening.

In total, the city would collect $4 million in the hotel's first decade of operation.

Rooms at the Hampton Inn would run $100 per night, and the hotel would offer a meeting room, a lounge with limited food service, a pool and a fitness center. Twenty of the hotel's employees would make $20,000 to $25,000 annually, four would make $25,000 to $35,000 each year, two would earn $35,000 to $45,000 annually, and four would bring in $50,000 to $75,000 each year, Colwen said.

The seven-year TIF for the Hampton Inn would exempt Colwen from 35 percent of its $2.46 million tax bill over that period. Construction would begin at Prescott and Faraday streets in spring 2014, with the hotel set to open in summer 2015.

Under the TIF, Worcester would collect $1.52 million in the first seven years after the hotel opens.

Upon completion of the TIFs, the property taxes generated from the two hotels will exceed $900,000 annually.

"The fate of both hotels lies with the ultimate approval of a tax relief deal with XSS and its subsidiaries," wrote Tim McGourthy, the city's chief development officer, in a six-page letter to the council. "Tax relief is essential to overcome the hurdles inherent in developing a new hotel."

McGourthy told city councilors that a $60 million proposal to build 350 units of market-rate housing and 15,000 square feet of retail space at CitySquare will move forward only if the adjacent hotel is approved. Talks with a prospective residential developer are underway.

"I think this is an all-out win for the city of Worcester," McGourthy said.
 

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Board OK's 100-room hotel in Worcester's Gateway Park

By Nick Kotsopoulos TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
nkotsopoulos@telegram.com





WORCESTER — The Planning Board Wednesday night gave its stamp of approval to plans for a $10 million, 100-room Hampton Inn at Gateway Park.

The five-story hotel will be built at 65 Prescott St., adjacent to the Courtyard by Marriott at 72 Grove Street, north of Lincoln Square.

The parcel where the hotel will be built is where the Courtyard by Marriott is located.

Patricia Gates, a lawyer representing the hotel developer, said the property will be divided into two separate lots, with the new hotel having frontage on Prescott Street. The Courtyard by Marriott, meanwhile, has frontage on Grove Street.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20140328/NEWS/303289781/0/SEARCH
 

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