Tag Archives: downtown development

Worcester: then and now

The new Franklin Street photo by Gordon Davis

By Gordon Davis

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus, Jr., is optimistic about the development of Worcester. Recently, he said: “Worcester has seen close to $3 billion in investment over the past five years. This year, home prices are up 5 to 8 percent. Rental rates are up 8 percent. And how could you miss the new hotels already redefining our skyline? Those hotels are being built for a reason. Our hotels are consistently full.”

Mr. Augustus is right to be happy with the new developments such as hotels and luxury apartments. This type of development has been a long time coming and is part of a historical cycle for the city.

Before this cycle of hotels, apartments and entertainment, there was the Worcester Center Galleria and its remake, Worcester Commons Outlets. Many in the city have the same optimism expressed by Mr. Augustus with his proclamation: “Worcester’s time is now.” Unfortunately, Mr. Augustus still sees downtown Worcester as the Worcester of the 1940s, a time when most people did not own cars. The importance of downtowns to cities in Mass. started to decline with a burgeoning suburbia and the families in them buying cars and driving to malls, like the old Shoppers World in Framingham, to shop. Shoppers World was exciting and cutting edge in 1955. It was the first shopping mall. Today, many shopping malls are abandoned ghost malls. The Greendale Mall in Worcester is near that state.

Development in downtown Worcester is based, to a large extent, on the transfer of the operations of St. Vincent Hospital from Vernon Hill. The transfer was subsidized by city taxes. It is not certain yet if the city will recover this money. The new apartments and condos being built in our downtown is a new phenomenon for Worcester. To some extent, our downtown will become a bedroom community for commuters going by trains to Boston. More important, it will become a neighborhood, like Main South or Vernon Hill. This is new and it seems to have gone unnoticed. Services for this new neighborhood, like a grocery store, will likely be established.

Since the early 1800s Worcester’s industries have been cyclical. With the water power of the Blackstone River, textiles and clothing were manufactured until the factories moved South in search of cheaper labor. In the later 1800s the metal industries developed in our city. Barbed wire was invented and manufactured in Worcester, as well as cables and processed steel. I worked at U.S. Steel as a young man and made oil well cables. As we know, the metal industries moved overseas. For a while, computers, such as minicomputers, were manufactured in the Worcester area. The personal computer signaled the death knell for computer manufacturing in this area. Today it is biotech that is the major industry here.

I hope you can see my point: Industries come and go. The Worcester area is not an exception to this rule. It is worrisome that Mr. Augustus did not mention what is being done regarding the industries of the future. There is a question of whether his vision includes the next cycle of industry. To quote former president Bill Clinton: It’s the economy, stupid.

Therefore, the city manager’s proclamation of “Worcester’s time is now” is not really a vision for the future.

This Saturday! Fete the murals!!! Pow! Wow! Worcester Music Festival and Block Party!!


On the side of Mechanics Hall. pics: Rose T.

Beauty at the bank!!!!

This Saturday! September 3!!


Pow! Wow! Worcester mural extravaganza…

Music Festival/Block Party!!!

On the Worcester Common (behind City Hall)

3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Food Trucks!

Beer Garden!



The bands:

3 pm – Gold Chain Baby

4 pm- Rodney Hazard

5 pm – Oxymorrons

6 pm – Blue Light Bandit

Be there!!!!

Across from the library!

The Peace Park piano in Piedmont will not be downtown, but check out her sis outside City Hall!

Today! Check out the murals across from the main WP Library, Salem Sq!

Check out your downtown! SO EXCITING!!!!
pics+text:Rosalie Tirella



WP Library school branch hours:

Worcester Public Library – One City, One Library Branches

Public Hours for 2016-2017 School Year

The Worcester Public Library’s One City, One Library Branches will have updated hours for the 2016-2017 school year:

The Burncoat Branch, located at 526 Burncoat Street, Worcester, will be open Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The Goddard Branch, located at 14 Richards Street, Worcester, will be open Monday through Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Roosevelt Branch, located at 1006 Grafton Street, Worcester, will be open Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The Tatnuck Magnet Branch, located at 1083 Pleasant Street, Worcester, will be open Monday through Friday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

All One City, One Library Branches will be closed on Sundays. Library hours are subject to change during holiday/vacation periods, please check www.mywpl.org for changes.

For more information about the Worcester Public Library or the One City, One Library branch hours please visit www.mywpl.org or call the Main Library at 508-799-1655.

3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA 01608

First day of school! Mom and son across the street, heading home, after a school day at the QUINSIGAMOND VILLAGE COMMUNITY SCHOOL!


The future! Downtown Worcester mural! CHECK ALL OF THE ART OUT TODAY!!!

From the WP Library:

The Worcester Public Library has been offering World Language Storytimes in Vietnamese and Portuguese for the past two years thanks to a grant from the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA).

The LSTA is the only federal program exclusively for libraries, and is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The World Languages Storytimes began in October 2014.

This two-year project made it possible for children and families who don’t frequent the Worcester Public Library to be exposed to the Library and its services while attending storytimes in their own language. (Vietnamese and Portuguese).

It also allowed this new audience to engage in other cultural and educational events offered at the Library.

Community members were invited to participate as presenters conducted storytimes in their native language, with the help of a Children’s Librarian.

A dozen patrons and Youth Services staff participated in an all-day training session.

The grant helped develop and increase the World Languages area, adding books, videos, music, posters and decorations, children’s musical instruments, and storytime supplies.

In February, the Library hosted a Chinese New Year and Kung Fu Demonstration by Leaders Way Kung Fu Academy in Worcester, with a traditional Lion Dance, and in April a Brazilian Cultural Stories and sing-along was offered.

The Librarians involved worked to build a solid foundation to continue the world languages storytimes program for the future. “It is important to be inclusive in offering these and all types of services to children and families,” said Iris Delgado, Youth Services Manager. “This grant gave us the opportunity to develop a reciprocal relationship between the Library and these communities. While attending World Language Storytimes they have become aware of the Library’s rich services, and we have learned through the presenters and participants the value of their communities to our library.”



GOOD STUFF! City of Worcester should host a fair like this one!

Mayor Stephen DiNatale and the City of Fitchburg Community Development Department invite you to the Fitchburg School Community Coalition


DATE: Thursday, September 15

TIME: 4 pm – 7 pm

PLACE: 14 Wallace Ave, Fitchburg

Come and learn about the services offered by Fitchburg City Departments and area agencies including:

housing and shelter assistance;

elder care;

food resources;

energy and fuel assistance;

health and wellness;

support groups;

child care;

domestic violence;

substance abuse information;

cultural offerings, veterans services –
and many more!


Fresh produce will be available for purchase


Free snacks will be provided by Sodexo



Love this mural in our theater district!!!!


Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus and the “minority” community

Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus

Let us start with City Manager Ed Augustus’ great plus: the development of downtown Worcester. He certainly has taken credit for it, and yet the evaluation of its success for Worcester has not been made. Many others had the foresight to see that the Galleria would be a failure when the Wrentham Outlets opened. Other city leaders wanted to reopen Front Street.

The issue of the development of our downtown and other areas of Worcester has led to the city’s Affirmative Action goals for construction jobs for city projects. No one in the public really knows how successful this effort has been. The City Manager’s office is not releasing significant or timely data. Also missing is: Where do people apply and what types of jobs are available?

The City Manager has taken credit for Affirmative Action through the hiring of Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Carter. The success of this office and the number of jobs going to unemployed Worcester residents has yet to be evaluated.

The City Manager, unlike some other officials in the state, has maliciously prosecuted Worcester’s Black Lives Matter protestors. The judge in the case said that the very premise of the complaint filed by Augustus was wrong. The judge ruled that there was NO criminal action. At least one of the protesters was found not responsible of even the civil complaint. The City Manager failed in this area of race relations. He also failed by immediately selling the Mosaic Center building,  which has a long history in the Black community. This action was perceived as racist, as other unused and essentially abandoned City properties, such as the corner lot at Sunderland Road and Lake Ave. which are a hazard and an eyesore, lie fallow.

City Manager Augustus gets failing grades for snow removal. As a pedestrian in the city I ask: How is it possible that anyone can give Augustus an “exceeds expectations” when he cannot keep Worcester streets open and safe during a snow storm? Any competent executive can do this.

The issue of lack of transparency has been around for decades in Worcester city government.  Augustus has again failed the City and its residents when he refused to release the report on the racist hate speech by a high ranking City of Worcester employee, Mr. Traynor. This is a reflection of the institutional racism in City of Worcester government. Traynor is one of the people who is supposed to accomplish the City’s Affirmative Action goals.

The lack of transparency continues into the Worcester Police Department where Chief Sargent has indicated that he has a policy for the City based on the “Broken Windows” theory. This policy used in other cities has resulted in racist practices such as “Stop, Question  and Frisk” in New York City. When will our Police Chief and City Manager make known the details of this policy?

City Manager Augustus is quite ordinary in his bending to disparate impacts on Worcester’s “minority” community.

Looking good, downtown Worcester!

As we tooled around the city Sunday, we caught these great holiday lamppost lights going up all along our grey Main Street. Yipee! Downtown Worcester needs a little Christmas – NOW!

Go, downtown Woo, go!

text+pics: R. Tirella



Downtown Worcester unfolding …


Monday, April 27, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern will join representatives from New Garden Park (NGP), the 501(c)3 entity of the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC), Worcester State University (WSU), and state and local officials to officially open the Innovation Center of Worcester at 20 Franklin St., in downtown Worcester.

What:   U.S. Representative Jim McGovern to Join Local Officials to Celebrate Launch of Innovation Center

When: Monday, April 27

9 am – 10 am

Where: 20 Franklin Street, Worcester

Be there!

Tomorrow! Be there! Let city leaders know you want JOBS for Worcesterites!

MAKE SURE BRADY SULLIVAN DOESN’T LEAVE LOCAL WORKERS OUT IN THE COLD if they get the old Worcester courthouse job!

MAKE SURE THEY HIRE SHOPS WITH APPRENTICE PROGRAMS if they are chosen to redevelop the old Worcester courthouse by Lincoln Square!

Local jobs for locals!  Now!     – R. Tirella


Worcester City Hall
Main Street
5 p.m.

Worcester City Council Economic Development Committee:

Rick Rushton(chair), Sarai Rivera & George Russell

Hearing on Courthouse Development

5 pm, Tuesday, March 31

3rd floor,  Worcester City Hall

What do we want the City to do in the Courthouse agreement ?

·         to provide local jobs for local people

·         have an agreement that is verifiable, “better effort” isn’t good enough

·         put a penalty in place if the agreement is broken

Please come and add your voice and your support!

Local Jobs for Local People!

Revitalizing downtown Worcester

The new Woo City Hall bus shelters spiff up downtown Worcester – too bad all the people who use the buses were shunted to Union Station! And where are the FREE shuttle buses that were supposed to take downtown bus riders to Union Station?! Let’s work this out, people, before the snow, sleet and freezing cold hits us!   – R. Tirella


By Phil Stone

When Rosalie first asked me to write a bi-weekly column on Downtown Worcester development activities, my response was that there was not enough activity to justify a bi-weekly column. After some back and forth, a compromise was reached: a monthly opinion piece on neighborhood and Downtown development. In fairness to the city officials and development leaders who have worked to revive Worcester’s Downtown over the past forty years, many of the challenges and short-comings of downtown are not unique to Worcester.

Department stores and other retail businesses have departed for suburban malls across the country, and have been doing so for fifty years. Worcester is not the only American city that once relied on manufacturing that is struggling to find a new purpose and identity. Sometimes the civic and political leaders got it right, such as getting the University of Massachusetts to locate its new medical school in Worcester.  Sometimes they blew it, such as opposing the routing of the Mass. Pike through Worcester. The medical school and U Mass Memorial Medical Center are now the largest employers in the city, a position once held by Norton Company.

Many of the large locally-owned businesses are now subsidiaries of global multinational companies. Norton Co. is now a subsidiary of France’s St. Gobain; Morgan a subsidiary of Germany’s Siemens. Other companies such as Wyman Gordon, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and Paul Revere Insurance are owned by American companies whose headquarters are not in Worcester.  As a result, the pool of local business leaders and managers with an understanding of, and a commitment to, Worcester has shrunk.

Worcester’s response to its changing circumstances was similar to other cities. It formed a Redevelopment Authority that seized and leveled large parcels, displacing many small, locally-owned businesses in the process. It built a downtown shopping mall, now gone, and constructed a new hospital on ten acres of prime land adjacent to its interstate highway. It built a convention center. Common to all of these projects was a focus on the automobile, at the expense of pedestrian friendly design.  Often, projects were intentionally designed to discourage people from leaving the confines of the mall, or the conventional center, and spending their money in other businesses downtown.

At the same time, opportunities for employment changed.  Manufacturing jobs which had offered full-time employment and paid a living wage left the city.  Increasing numbers of service jobs required mastery of spoken and written English. Job options for recent immigrant arrivals became limited to cooking, cleaning or driving. These are rarely full-time positions, forcing adults to cobble together two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet. The erratic work schedules puts stress on families, and limits participation in civic activities. To be continued next month.

Revitalizing Worcester’s downtown

By Michael Gaffney, candidate for Worcester City Councilor at Large

Revitalizing Worcester’s downtowncontinues to be a topic of much discussion with little or no progress and many false starts.  Despite the fact that the City has thrown significant resources and engaged in large scale development projects we have yet to see any lasting improvement.  True progress is moving forward, not circling back around to follow the same dead-end path over and over again.  As a city, we seem to engage in projects with an eye on the short-term accomplishment and a lack of focus on what we are seeking to achieve in the long-run.  In order to make lasting change we need to ensure that we have a clearly articulated vision for what we are seeking to achieve, appropriate incentives for those who can aid us in achieving our goals, and an action plan to get us there.

You may be wondering about the all the development downtown has been promoted as a sign that the City is making true progress despite what our eyes are telling us.  So how do we get millions of dollars downtown without any real progress?  Well, let’s break down the elements of political math with an example:  My next door neighbor and I decide to sell our houses and agree to buy each other’s home for $250,000.00 each.  In practical terms, this means an even sum exchange, but with the magic of political math this was $500,000.00 in economic development.  All that really happened was my neighbor and I exchanged locations, but it certainly sounds better when the sales prices are stacked upon one another.

An example of this in our city is the economic development downtown where Unum moved approximately 3,000 meters from the Chestnut Street area to the Worcester Common area.  Quinsigamond College is moving from the old Worcester Common Fashion Outlet across the park to the Old Telegram and Gazette Building.  The Telegram and Gazette moved from one side of the park to the other.  This all adds up to millions in development according to the above political math, but in reality we just shuffled the deck.

The latest efforts to develop downtown are focused on increasing “foot traffic” by attracting college students to the area to stimulate business.  To achieve this result the City Council seeks to move as much downtown real estate off the tax rolls and into the hands of the non-profit colleges to bring them into the heart of the City.  So, while they are reducing the tax base by selling out to the non-profits, the Council spends millions to redesign the busing system to push services off Main Street into a hub located at Union Station.  Clearly, moving the busing off Main Street has the inverse effect of increasing “foot traffic” downtown, so I leave it to the readers to determine why the City Council would take such action, but the alleged reason is to encourage business development.

The question is: what does business development mean to our City leaders?  Apparently, the Midtown Mall with a tax value of $3.3 million must be knocked down because, as one councilor claimed, it is a “trash can”.  With a 30% commercial tax rate, does the City Council really expect that the property owner will be rushing out to improve the property so that he can immediately see his tax dollars double?  (see my prior article on commercial tax rates.)  Instead of incentivizing improvement, our City Council attacks the owner and the businesses at the mall.  When did it become the role of government to choose winners and losers in business?  Here, it seems that our City Council has taken direct aim at the existing businesses downtown by cutting off their “foot traffic” and are now engaging in a relentless attack on them.

Let’s back up a bit to consider Union Station.  As you may recall, it was supposed to be the “South Station of Worcester.”  Now it is mainly empty with little foot traffic as the commuters simply approach from the old train stop rather than walking through.  The City spent $21 million for a parking garage that even at full utilization could not be profitable and now want to raise fees.  Simply put, if consumers wouldn’t park there for $2.00, they will be less inclined to park there for $4.00.  Yet, since so much money and political clout was spent on the Union Station project, the City Council can’t give up.  So, the intersection was redesigned from a rotary to a round-about where pedestrians risk their lives crossing, but no development resulted.  So Greyhound was moved across town, but that didn’t increase foot traffic either.  Now, the WRTA main hub is next to Union Station, but a recent article in the Boston papers shows that the desolation from the torn down buildings surrounding Worcester Common is less than appealing to foot traffic or development.

Our central planners that gave us the Union Station project are now touting the Theater District project.  Ignoring the fact we have one theater, our City Council in true theatrical style held several meetings for “public input” regarding the Theater District from which they ignored every suggestion received only making a few punctuation and grammatical changes.  Despite a history of failure, our City Council continues to push the idea that they can determine what businesses should be allowed and promoted and whom they will allow to frequent such businesses.

Now, do not misinterpret the above criticisms, I truly believe that Worcester has a lot to offer and has an abundance of potential. We just seem to be missing a clearly articulated vision, little incentive for those that can help us, and no long-term action plan to get us there so our City leaders continue to waste significant effort and resources including our tax dollars.  The result is a lack of true progress and growing frustration. “A vision without a plan is just a dream. A plan without a vision is just drudgery. But a vision with a plan can change the world. ~ Old proverb” If our vision is a revitalized downtown with foot traffic and businesses for them to patronize, we need a plan and to work with those that can help us achieve that vision.

To develop our downtown, we need to incentivize business to reinvest as I have previously discussed.  We need to assist where we can with infrastructure improvements.  And we need to step back and stop the inclination to control others by letting business develop according to market forces rather than trying to impose our will upon others.  History has shown that the free hand produces while the forced hand is held back. Development is important for the city, but it must be development that is lasting and beneficial in the long run to helping us achieve our long term vision, which is a revitalized downtown.