Lieutenant Governor Murray, City and Business Leaders Celebrate Milestone For CitySquare Development in Worcester
Lieutenant Governor Murray leads panel discussion with business developers and local officials; Unveils view of new Front Street corridor
WORCESTER – Thursday, May 24, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today joined business developers and state, local and federal officials to mark continued progress of the CitySquare development in Worcester. As one of the Commonwealth’s 24 Gateway Cities and the second largest city in Massachusetts and New England, the Patrick-Murray Administration continues to work in partnership with government, academia and industry leaders to promote long-term economic growth in Worcester.
“Investing in our Gateway Cities is part of our growth strategy that will create jobs and continue the Commonwealth's strong economic recovery,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “This is a proud day for the city of Worcester and I look forward to seeing the CitySquare development truly revitalize Worcester’s downtown growth district.”
“The CitySquare development serves as an anchor for revitalization in Worcester’s downtown district,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “Today, we celebrate a break-through moment, a turning point that will help reconnect the city and move another step closer to redeveloping the city’s downtown area and promoting future economic growth for Worcester and the region.”
The CitySquare development is a multi-year, multi-phase project that will replace a failed urban-renewal era mall on 21 acres in downtown Worcester. The CitySquare vision includes more than 2.2 million square feet of mixed-use space, reestablishing pedestrian friendly streetscapes and creating vibrant new housing, retail and varied commercial options, all within walking distance of the inter-modal transit hub at Worcester's Union Station.
Moving one step closer to this vision, the unveiling provided a first look of the future Front Street extension, which will link Union Station and Washington Square in the heart of Worcester’s downtown district. The first phase of the CitySquare development will include anchor tenant Unum Group, which will lease a 214,000 square foot building built by the developer. As part of this phase, The Hanover is financing the construction of the Unum building and the redevelopment of an adjacent parking garage. Unum will invest approximately $100 million in private funding for the new office building with plans to retain 700 jobs and create 50 new jobs. In April 2011, St. Vincent Hospital also announced plans to build up to a 66,000 square foot medical office building to house a new comprehensive cancer center at CitySquare. The new center, a $21 million investment, is also currently under construction.
The idea that the old mall could not be revived, but needed to be torn down, was first proposed in 1999 by Dan Benoit, a local architect and former staff in the city’s planning department. Lieutenant Governor Murray, when he was Mayor Worcester, embraced Benoit's idea. After researching the national trend of failed urban malls, Murray issued a landmark white paper in 2003 that supported the case for re-development and launched the initiative that has led to the CitySquare development. As part of today’s ceremony, Mayor Joseph Petty presented a key to the City of Worcester to Dan Benoit.
“In the beginning, my concept for the mall was not always met with open arms,” said Benoit. “It wasn’t until Tim Murray endorsed my plan that things gained some traction.”
Lieutenant Governor Murray also led a panel discussion today featuring the original group of thought leaders who conceptualized the CitySquare project. The project's public and private partners, including Congressman James McGovern, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, City Manager Michael O'Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Eppinger of The Hanover Insurance Group, President and CEO Kevin McCarthy of Unum US and local officials, lauded the progress of the project that will ultimately lead to a mixed-used development project within Worcester's Growth District.
“This landmark economic development project is a great example of what public/private partnerships can accomplish,” said U.S. Congressman James McGovern. “A successful downtown Worcester is good for the whole Commonwealth. I want to commend everyone involved for making this day a reality.”
"The breakthrough of Front Street signifies a remarkable achievement in the development of Worcester as we connect the east and west sides of the city,” said Mayor Joseph Petty. “This event, however, is only the beginning of the growth and development we will continue to see in Worcester."
“The progress made at CitySquare reflects a great collaborative effort of people and organizations that believe in the future of Worcester, and who understand the important role the city plays in the vitality of the region overall,” said Frederick H. Eppinger, Chief Executive Officer at The Hanover. “We are very pleased with all that has been accomplished and believe we will, thoughtfully and over time, build a quality project that serves as a catalyst for prudent economic development.”
“Unum is very pleased to be a part of this exciting new development in Worcester and looks forward to moving into City Square in early 2013,” said Kevin McCarthy, Chief Operating Officer at Unum. “The reopening of Front Street enhances the entire project and will help bring more vitality to all of Main Street.”
"I am delighted to play a small role in the success of the City Square project and am committed to the economic vitality of the City of Worcester," said Erik Wexler, President and CEO of St. Vincent Hospital.
Following the Patrick-Murray Administration’s designation of downtown Worcester as a Growth District in 2008, the Administration has awarded $41.25 million in grants and financing to support public infrastructure improvements. CitySquare's first phase is underway and expected to be completed by the end of 2012. This work includes the demolition of the former mall, construction of Unum's new office building, construction of St. Vincent Hospital's new medical building, demolition of a portion of the existing parking garage, development of new public streets, streetscape, and other site work. The redeveloped garage will accommodate approximately 860 vehicles and be used by Unum and its employees. The first phase of this development will also include the creation of a public roadway, including today’s unveiled future Front Street Corridor, and other infrastructure work that will support future growth and development in and around the site.
The Patrick-Murray Administration has initiated strategies to promote economic activity as well as significant investments in the Commonwealth’s 24 Gateway Cities, including Worcester. Among some of the strategies implemented in the Gateway Communities include:
- Making long-term investments in education, innovation and infrastructure, with special attention to the growth potential of each city's entrepreneurs and small businesses;
- Leveraging the potential of each community’s distinctive assets, including their educational, medical and cultural institutions, and their historic buildings and neighborhoods; and
- Connecting Gateway Cities to other local, state and global centers of innovation and economic activity.
In keeping with this strategy, the Patrick-Murray Administration has made the following Gateway City investments:
- Approximately $4 billion in Chapter 70 Education Aid in Fiscal Year 2012
- Over $1 billion in active construction contracts through MassDOT
- Over $20,000,000 in Gateway City Parks grants funding park projects in 24 cities
- Approximately $109.2 million from 2007-present in public safety grants to police and fire departments and non-profit agencies to retain staffing levels and combat violence
- Approximately 500,000 clients serviced at 16 Career Centers in Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2011
- Approximately $17.5 million in Work Force Training Grants from 2007 through February of 2011
- $1.14 billion in bonds financed, grants and loans by MassDevelopment