The Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan is an important tool in the city’s toolbox as Worcester continues to reinvent itself.
Worcester, Massachusetts—The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce announced today that it fully supports the Worcester Redevelopment Authority’s (WRA) proposed 20-year, $100 million Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan.
The plan strategically targets 24 properties that are neglected and / or underutilized and that have created barriers to fully leveraging the district’s potential to draw new developers to the downtown. The plan indicates that the WRA will work with existing owners to improve their property – or sell it if they are unwilling to invest. Ongoing investment is critical to maintaining a property’s safety, complying with regulations and code, and remaining viable as a location to established and relocating businesses. Without this investement, properties fall into disrepair affecting not only the tenants of those buildings, but also neighboring properties and their tenants.
Importantly, the plan indicates that the WRA will utilize the eminent domain option only as a last resort. The city’s leadership is invested in the success of Worcester business owners and will work with them to create a climate in which all businesses can thrive and grow.
“This plan is one tool in the city’s toolbox to fully leverage public / private investments that have been made to date,” stated Chamber president and CEO, Timothy P. Murray. “It will also allow for the better utilization of prime space within the designated downtown redevelopment area.”
The Chamber applaudes the process by which the plan was established. A Citizen Advisory Committee, comprised of 15 representatives of the community, helped to shape the plan over the course of 10 public meetings. Considerable thought and deliberation went into establishing the plan that seeks to capitalize on this important business district.
Robert Johnson, chair of the Chamber’s board of directors and president of Becker College stated, “A city’s downtown business district affects all parts of the community from those adjacent to it to the furthest away. It sets the tone for residents and visitors by creating an environment that offers a variety of retail businesses, destinations, residential space, and office environments. Worcester is poised to enhance all of those elements in the downtown, and we will work with all those who want to achieve this important goal.”
Important stipulations are made in the plan to protect those owners who are reinvesting in their properties. Only those that have been categorized as blighted and substandard, because of a chronic lack of investment; are brownfield sites that have been vacant for 20 years; are obsolete and lack up-to-date infrastructure; or have accessibility concerns are included in the inventory of targeted properties.
The Chamber fully supports the plan and will work with the WRA and city leadership to ensure that Worcester’s economic future continues to move forward capitalizing on the momentum that we are currently experiencing. The Chamber encourages public support for the plan at the WRA hearing on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 5:30 pm in the Showcase Corner located on the first floor of the DCU Center.
The Chamber will support the Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan at the hearing and has encouraged its members to support the plan in an action alert issued to its members on May 4, 2016.