526 Main St. in Worcester to be redeveloped for co-working space, retail

July 12, 2023 : MassLive, Tréa Lavery

A former pawn shop and check-cashing business on Worcester’s Main Street will soon be redeveloped into co-working, maker space and new retail spaces.

Menkiti Group, a real estate development company based in Washington, D.C. that has an office in Worcester, announced Wednesday that it had officially purchased 526 Main St., across the street from the Hanover Theatre. Retail spaces on the ground floor are already being advertised for lease, including a corner restaurant space.

When the project is complete, the second floor will be taken up by co-working space that will also include a creative maker space for local artisans.

“We are proud to announce the acquisition of 526 Main St., which further enhances our mission of transforming lives, careers and communities through real estate,” said Bo Menkiti, founder and CEO of the company, in a press release. “This acquisition signifies our continued commitment to bringing investment and commercial density back to Worcester’s historic Theatre District.”

The building, which was constructed in 1894 by businessman Ransom F. Taylor, was purchased by MassDevelopment in 2017 through its Transformative Development Initiative Equity Investment Program. The agency released a request for proposals later that year and selected Menkiti as the developer of the project.

Last month, MassDevelopment provided three loans totaling $6.9 million to Menkiti Group along with a $250,000 grant from the state Collaborative Workspace Program and transferred the property to the company.

“MassDevelopment is proud to have completed its commitment to the city of Worcester and to our first Transformative Development Initiative district,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “State, local and private partners have made significant investments to help transform downtown Worcester into a more vibrant and attractive neighborhood, and we were glad to deploy our financing and real estate expertise to unlock the potential of 526 Main St. and ensure it is an important part of this progress.”

Following the building rehabilitation, it will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to the funding from MassDevelopment, Menkiti received New Markets Tax Credits from RBC Community Development, federal and state Historic Tax Credits and additional financing from U.S. Bank and the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency.

The design team includes Providence-based ZDS Architecture and Interiors, Building Engineering Resources, Graves Engineering and Roome and Guarracino. Local contractor R.P. Masiello, who also worked on Menkiti’s Chatham Lofts, will be the builder for the project.

“526 Main Street is a jewel box of a structure located at an extremely high visibility intersection in downtown Worcester,” said Mark Rengel, vice president of development at the Menkiti Group. “It has played an important role in the retail landscape for more than a century, and we are excited for the building to recognize its full potential. With the addition of several high-quality retailers, the Ransom F. Taylor block will once again become an integral part of the fabric of Main Street.”

Menkiti Group also owns 554 and 403 Main St., two other office and retail properties. It is in the process of converting the historic Kane Building at 204 Main St. into apartments and is in the running to redevelop the Denholm Building at 484 Main St.