There is a clear change blossoming in the city of Worcester. Growing neighborhoods and revived properties have sparked a fire into what many believe may be the beginning of a “renaissance” in our city. But don’t just take it from me. According to John Dyer of CommonWealth magazine (Winter 2018) -- “Worcester Comeback Seems for Real: Pent-up demand is finally being realized in state’s second-largest city.”
Roughly $2.6 billion, according to city officials, has been spent in construction in the Worcester area over the last few years, with several hundred million dollars still in the pipeline. Most notably, the former site of the Galleria, which closed in 2006 and now renamed CitySquare, has gained substantial traction for its redevelopment covering 22 acres of new city streets, apartments, offices, and more. New developments are in the works for the district revolving around The Hanover Theatre, while new housing units have opened all around downtown.
Progress is not confined to downtown, either. Many of the old factories, with their faded brick facades, have become bustling hubs for housing, restaurants and shops. With nonstop rail service to Boston, our own city colleges have expanded their campuses, and new residential buildings have boosted Worcester’s population growth to levels not seen in decades.
As we celebrate this momentum, we stand ready to be sure such improvements work for everyone. As Worcester reimagines itself, we bear in mind the kinds of unintended consequences that have been known to detract from otherwise extraordinary city revitalization efforts around the country. Such as…
- As luxury housing expands, surrounding prices go up. A mix of affordable housing needs to be protected throughout all city.
- Local businesses can suffer as corporate competitors locate to previously undesirable locations. This problem impacts consumers as well as small business owners. If dollars are thoughtfully spent locally, then small business has a much better chance to survive and thrive.
As we turn our attention towards the future, it’s critically important that we keep an eye of what makes us the “Heart of the Commonwealth” -- a city which support all of its people.