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Walking Tour Showcases Worcester’s Successes to Investors

May 16, 2012 : GoLocalWorcester


There was a palpable energy among the 35-40 area investors and developers who were walking from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) to Union Station. They came from within the city, from Boston and even Rhode Island and were here to find out just how Worcester does it – how has the city moved so quickly after so long on new transportation systems, new construction and, ultimately, a new economic engine in the form of a revitalized downtown.

“This is really exciting to see,” said Art Eddy of Providence, R.I. He is with the Birchwood Design Groupand was among those taking part in Wednesday’s tour of economic development initiatives. MassDevelopment joined city officials to plan the event, which kicked off with a speaking presentation inside MCPHS. The talk was spirited, but the real proof of what the city has to offer was in the pudding for people like Eddy.

“It’s incredibly fast,” Eddy said as the group made its way beyond St. Vincent Hospital and adjacent the work being done on CitySquare as it moved toward Union Station. There, Eddy and others were scheduled to catch a bus to tour the city’s other economic development projects. “I know there was a lot of planning before this, but the actual work being done…in Rhode Island this would take 20 years.”

Richard Stang was also part of the Rhode Island contingent. Stang is a principal with Commercial Real Estate Service in North Smithfield, R.I. His group is mulling the purchase of property at 212 Summer Street at Washington Square.

“To us that property really is the front door to the downtown area,” Stang said. “It’s very important that people look at that.”

The Summer Street parcel currently has a liquor store and other buildings on it. About five years ago, the city was eyeing it for as space for a hotel or office building, according to Stang. With CitySquare already looking at including a hotel complex that use might come off the table for 212 Summer St.

“The idea is to be complementary,” Stang said of developing the property. “It could still be a hotel, but it could medical or something else as well.”

While he’s not from the area, Stang said he has visited Worcester several times in the past several months trying to work out a deal for the property.

“With the transportation piece you have here, there’s an intermodal nature,” Stang said. “To me, that smacks of the need to be utilized.”

City Manager Michael O’Brien saw Wednesday’s tour as another tool in the city’s arsenal when it comes to promotion and attracting developers and investors.

“Worcester is a city on the move,” said O’Brien. “For too long we self-deprecated ourselves in the shadow of Providence and Boston. We can really just offer what it is that makes us special. Everybody recognizes that so goes Worcester, so goes Central Mass, so goes Massachusetts.”

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