There was a rather in depth article posted on the Worcester Business Journal site yesterday regarding the status of the empty and decaying 350,000 square foot plus Crompton and Knowles building that sits along the railroad tracks at the bottom of Grand Street here in Worcester.
95 Grand Street sits less than 200 yards from my front door here at University Park Lofts. The city of Worcester currently has issued Requests For Proposals for this building with a deadline for submissions of February 29th. The city is still set in their ways looking for a "mixed use" project featuring 100 to 150 units of housing along with a mix of retail, restaurant and office space. The city's housing manager says they are looking for someone with "deep pockets and a long term vision". Personally there are plenty of things that I want as well, but that does not mean that I just close my eyes and click my heels and a benefactor appears and gives me everything that I want.
Case in point The University Park Lofts which I reside in are located a stone's throw away. A sale here at University Park has not been recorded since Crystal and I moved in and that was back in July! As stated in the article there are still 30 units available here at University Park, and we are located within shouting distance of 95 Grand. The city housing office should be looking to work with the investment companies and management groups that have already laid out the cash and built affordable units within the city before adding to the glut of units on the market.
The city likes to tout the revitalization of the city's old mills with lofts projects such as The Fremont, University Park and others in their literature and PowerPoint presentations that they distribute to the business community, but the underlying fact is that a completed building such as University Park Lofts is 80% unsold.
Yes it is the market, yes it is the fact that the developers should be more willing to move down in price and be receptive to the state of the housing market of 2008 rather than the pricing that they envisioned back when the units were being built. But the fact remains that Scott Hayman the Worcester Director of Housing Services should be looking for ways that the city can help fill these newly completed units before building another 100+ units a hop skip and a jump away.
I may have only lived in this neighborhood for 6 or 7 months now, but it is plain to see that the area is not fully ready to fully embrace mixed use condo's here in Main South. Now 95 Grand is a huge building that would need a serious overhaul so the completion would be at least 3 years out or so, but at this point I think that timeline would not really support a project of this type. I think the building can be saved but could be best used for a warehouse or industrial type setting with some available artists spaces.
And if the city gets no serious bites on the RFP and thinks the building should be ton down that is something they should do on their dime, as that became their responsibility when they seized the building for back taxes. If not leave it be, let it sit thru the seasons, and I will keep taking pictures of the building when I go out on walks in the neighborhood.
Who Will Rebuild 95 Grand??