By Ron O’Clair
Has anyone noticed the wonderful job they did bringing back the Junction Mills Project to a new life for the old structure? It is worth a trip to see the old eyesore looking fit and healthy once again and being filled up with new people to bring a much needed boost to the area that I have resided in by choice since 1996, in July.
The building I am concerned with, the one I live in at the corner of Main and Charlton streets – the “Charlton” at 707 Main St. – these many years now has a bright future ahead of it as well, seeing as how it was purchased recently by New Era Property LLC.
The new owners are buying their first commercial property in Worcester, and as astute businessmen, they are fully aware of the problems that plague the neighborhood here in the 700 block of Main Street, Main South, and this property in particular.
Knowledge is power, and they realize that in order to bring the property into the future, they need to get rid of the past.
That means wholesale eviction of all the people that currently reside in the building that have been involved in the vast criminal conspiracy to traffic in narcotics in one form or another. Some of them are going for simply failing to keep out the drug addicted, the street walkers who ply their trade up and down the 700 block of Main Street and bring their clients in the building to perform in one of the two bathrooms on the larger of the two sides of the rooming house.
Just as there are two sides to every story if not more, there are two sides that comprise the Licensed Lodging House. The people that are there all agreed to abide by the No Visitor rule prior to being offered tenancy, and sure enough once in, they chose to allow a parade of junkies, crack heads, and prostitutes to come and go as they please, to sleep in common area’s, to use the showers as well as the laundry machines, (which they tampered with to get free washing) and to cook their meals on the stove.
It became a homeless street persons dream home, and they had the added benefit of not having to pay any rent. No matter what I, or the owner had to say about it, they simply ignored the management requests to stay out, and conspired to gain access the moment I turned my back, or went to sleep. It was crazy like it hadn’t been for quite some time, nearly as bad as when I first took the position as building superintendent in June of 2003 when it was totally off the hook.
I could not get the proper and timely help I needed from the Worcester Police to catch the criminals in the act of trespassing, and when I did catch them, the police would not arrest them, instead giving them verbal orders not to come back, and a stern warning that if they did, then they would be arrested and charged. I even caught people red handed inside rooms that were supposed to be vacant and that had been securely locked, and still could not get any arrests made when I called to complain about them not just trespassing but breaking and entering as well.
All of that will come to a screeching halt under the new owners. They are not going to tolerate any monkey business by the criminals, or the police for that matter. They have the resources to make sure that does not happen once they start the major renovations of the building they will be spending a large sum of money to install more surveillance camera’s covering the interior portions that my system did not including the kitchens and the hallways.
These will be monitored by a security service and also be available to be viewed right in any patrol car via the internet on the Worcester Police Laptop installed in each patrol vehicle.
The new owners have plans to address all the deficiencies that currently affect the building and the grounds. They will be paving the rear parking area putting in a new perimeter fence and landscaping. They will be putting a new roof on the building. They will not hesitate to spend the necessary capital to improve their investment and ensure its survival as Worcester turns the corner into a new age of prosperity once Main Street is cleaned up. This building has been the magnet since before the homeless shelter moved, and even more so since that time.
Once these current tenants are gone, the gutting out of the interior can begin, with the installation of new everything, from kitchen cabinets, to walls, floors, and ceilings. One owner was even talking of making less units, by tearing out dividing walls and increasing square footage that way per unit. The bathrooms will be totally rehabbed with new fixtures, plumbing tubs, sinks, walls ceilings and floors. When finished the tenants that survived the purge, will be allowed to move over to the larger side, so the smaller side can then have the same treatment.
The finished product will then be the finest in the immediate area, and certainly will only be rented to responsible people who do not abuse the property or themselves. They told me they would rather leave it vacant than rent to the type of people that are here now that allow the place to be overrun with drug addicts, and deadbeats who use every trick in the legal books to extend their stay even after legal eviction. I have two like that here still, even though they were legally evicted in November.
I imagine the exterior will also get a much needed makeover, and the place will be transformed from an eyesore into something that hopefully will spur other property owners to invest in their buildings here in the 700 block of Main Street as well. I am hoping to have the needed support of the Worcester Police to make this happen, and hopefully the neighborhood residents and businesses will also band together to put a stop to the constant drug dealing, prostitution, and criminal activity that takes place all day and all night in this immediate vicinity.
Maybe I am just an optimist, but if you believe hard enough that it can and will happen, then it will happen. If you are of a mind that nothing will change, then nothing will change. We need to get together and cooperate with the police to make sure we can once again be proud to say, come on down to “beautiful downtown Worcester” as Mr. Douglas (Duddie) Massad is famous for having said in his radio and television commercials selling automobiles in the greater Worcester area.
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