By Gordon Davis
Joe Petty, the mayor of Worcester, walked the Wall Street neighborhood yesterday with city officials, District 2 City Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson and neighborhood folks. He visited the Friendly House, Westerman’s, Grafton Street School and more. One of the stops on his walk was the empty lot that used to be the El Morocco Restaurant. The lot sits on high ground with a terrific view of the Worcester skyline.
A housing project of 90 units of 1, 2, 3 bedroom apartments is being planned for the now empty lot. All of the units will be market rate. There will be no affordable housing units. The developer stated that he could not build any affordable housing units under the state program.
Longtime director of Friendly House, Gordon Hargrove, felt that some of the units will eventually become affordable units.
Mr. Hargrove is working closely with the developer to ensure some additional benefit to the neighborhood. He indicated that the project would include upgrades to the Shale Street School playground.
The Mayor and developer showed a schematic of the building layout. However, the developer saidthe final project would look different than what was on the schematic. He did not have a copy of the revisions.
Like Mr. Hargrove, the Mayor felt that the housing units would help the neighborhood and the city.
The streets in the neighborhood are narrow, as most of the streets on the East Side were built well over 100 years ago. There might be some concerns about traffic and parking. For planners one and one-half cars per unit is considered standard.
Another concern expressed was how many children would live in the project and where they would go to school. An employee at Grafton Street School, only two blocks away, said the school was at capacity.
She also said Grafton Street School is the oldest functioning school building in the Worcester School District. There are some renovations going on at the school today, including a new boiler, windows and an elevator for people with physical handicaps.
During the walk City Manager Edward Augustus asked a DPW employee how often the storm drains were cleaned on this street, as he pointed to a clogged drain. The DPW worker said his department cleans the drains.
The walk ended on an interesting note – at Westerman’s, a vendor in Worcester that provides props for local movies. Included in props was the Teddy Bear from the movies “Ted” and Ted2”!