Opportunity Zones

Cameron Sperance filed this request with the Executive Office of Economic Development of Worcester, MA .
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Cameron Sperance


To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, I hereby request the following records:

All materials pertaining to opportunity zones in the City of Worcester.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as we believe this request is in the public interest, as suggested but not stipulated by the recommendations of the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

I expect the request to be filled in an accessible format, including for screen readers, which provide text-to-speech for persons unable to read print. Files that are not accessible to screen readers include, for example, .pdf image files as well as physical documents.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Cameron Sperance

From: Executive Office of Economic Development

Good afternoon Mr. Sperance,

Thank you for your public records request. Attached, please find documents responsive to your request as provided by Economic Development. They note that additional information may be found on the City's website<http://www.worcesterma.gov/business-community-development/real-estate-development/opportunity-zones>. Below, please find a copy of the Opportunity Zone Application. There is no charge for these documents. If you would like to make another request, please do not hesitate to reach out again. Thank you, have a nice day.

Formstack Submission For: Opportunity Zone Application<https://massgov.formstack.com/forms/opportunity_zone_application>
Submitted at 03/26/18 11:16 AM

Region: ( Berkshire, Cape and Islands, Central, Greater Boston, Northeast, Pioneer Valley, or Southeast):

Central

Municipality::

Worcester

Municipal CEO Name and Title:

Edward M. Augustus, Jr., City Manager

Mailing Address:

455 Main Street<https://maps.google.com/?q=455+Main+Street+%0D%0AWorcester,+MA+01608&entry=gmail&source=g>
Worcester, MA 01608

Applicant Email Address:

sandersj@worcesterma.gov<mailto:sandersj@worcesterma.gov>

Phone number:

(508) 799-1175<tel:(508)%20799-1175>

Does this municipality have a Community Compact with the Commonwealth?:

Yes

TRACTS: Please type in full 11-digit GeoID (FIPS number) of the census tract(s) that your municipality is nominating. Each number should be placed on its own line, creating a list.:

25027732500
25027731700
25027730500
25027732801
25027731300
25027731400

Describe the tract(s) you are nominating, including (but not limited to) demographic breakdown; percentage of residential, commercial, industrial and open space uses; quality of life; major property owners and their relationships in the district; level of civic engagement and a brief history of the tract(s)::

732500 (Wyman Gordon)
Total Population: 2,002
Median Age: 29.7
Renter Occupied Housing: 89.2%
Age 25+ with Bachelors: 18.4%
Unemployment Rate for 16 and over: 6.7%
Race: White 34%, Black of African American 13%, Asian 10%, Hispanic or Latino 41.5%
Median Income: $19,375
Land Use = Residential: 20%; Commercial: 40% (zoning); Industrial/Manufacturing: 40% (zoning)
Open Space: Crompton Park

731700 (Front/Foster - Urban Renewal)
Total Population: 2,720
Median Age: 32.6
Renter Occupied Housing: 90.6%
Age 25+ with Bachelors: 19.7%
Unemployment Rate for 16 and over: 17%
Race: White 47%, Black of African American 21.7%, Asian 1.1%, Hispanic or Latino 27.9%
Median Income: $16,435
Land Use = Commercial: 100% (zoning)
Open Space: Worcester Common

730500 (West Boylston/GoldStar - St. Gobain/Greendale Mall)
Total Population: 3,430
Median Age: 31.7
Renter Occupied Housing: 70.7%
Age 25+ with Bachelors: 24.7%
Unemployment Rate for 16 and over: 10.3%
Race: White 61.3%, Black of African American 18%, Asian 6.6%, Hispanic or Latino 13.6%
Median Income: $30,554
Land Use = Residential 60%; Commercial: 10% (zoning); Industrial/Manufacturing: 30% (zoning)
Open Space: Institute Park, Indian Lake

732801 (Massasoit/Blithewood - Route 20)
Total Population: 4,601
Median Age: 41.4
Renter Occupied Housing: 44.1%
Age 25+ with Bachelors: 27.5%
Unemployment Rate for 16 and over: .4%
Race: White 73.8%, Black of African American 10.1%, Asian 4.9 Hispanic or Latino 10.2%
Median Income: $34,654
Land Use = Residential: 80%; Commercial: 10% (zoning; Industrial/Manufacturing: 10% (zoning)

731300 (Main South/Beacon Street)
Total Population: 3,573
Median Age: 32.9
Renter Occupied Housing: 91.1%
Age 25+ with Bachelors: 7.9%
Unemployment Rate for 16 and over: 9.9%
Race: White 30.3%, Black of African American 23.2%, Asian 5.4% Hispanic or Latino 44.5%
Median Income: $17,059
Land Use = Residential: 50%; Commercial: 10% (zoning);Industrial/Manufacturing: 40% (zoning)
Open Space: Crystal Park

731400 (Main to Park/Chandler to May)
Total Population: 4,388
Median Age: 35.4
Renter Occupied Housing: 88.7%
Age 25+ with Bachelors: 5.2%
Unemployment Rate for 16 and over: 16%
Race: White 29.6%, Black of African American 14.8%, Asian 10.6%, Hispanic or Latino 45%
Median Income: $15,257
Land Use = Residential: 60%; Commercial: 30% (zoning)

Please indicate which of the following apply within your community.:

Approved Housing Development Incentive Program Zone
Approved Urban Renewal Plan
43D Expedited Permitting District
Master Plan
Economic Development Plan
Multi-family zoning by-right
Mixed-use/ cluster zoning
Commercial zoning by-right
Business Improvement District, Main Street program, or similar
Contains a collaborative workspace, incubator, or accelerator
Priority Development Area

How many of the nominated tracts have an approved 40R District or 40R Starter-Home District::

How many of the nominated tracts have Urban Center Housing Tax Increment Financing::

How many of the nominated tracts have an approved Housing Development Incentive Program Zone::

6

How many of the nominated tracts have a valid, unexpired, Housing Production Plan::

How many of the nominated tracts have an approved Urban Renewal Plan::

2

How many of the nominated tracts have an approved tax increment financing district::

How many of the nominated tracts have a 43D Expedited Permitting District::

3

How many of the nominated tracts have a Master Plan::

6

How many of the nominated tracts have an Economic Development Plan::

2

How many of the nominated tracts have mixed-use/cluster zoning::

6

How many of the nominated tracts have multi-family zoning by-right::

6

How many of the nominated tracts have commercial zoning by-right::

6

How many of the nominated tracts have a Business Improvement District, Main Street program, or similar::

1

How many of the nominated tracts contain a collaborative workspace, incubator, or accelerator::

2

How many of the nominated tracts have a Federal Choice Neighborhood::

How many of the nominated tracts have a Priority Development Area::

1

Outline any planning and programming efforts made by the municipality or other stakeholders to attract investment in the community as a whole and in the low income census tract(s) being nominated. Use the chart below to indicate specific strategies/planning that your community has undertaken. Check if your community has implemented an item in general, and then in how many of the nominated tracts.:

The City of Worcester has invested considerable resources in planning and programming to attract investment in the community and in the nominated census tracts. Most recently, the city has invested in a new strategic plan as well as a city-wide master plan that will include housing, transportation, and economic development priorities. The State also recently approved the city's newest Urban Renewal Plan that targets areas in two of the proposed census tracts. The city's first Business Improvement District is also underway, covering the TDI designated Theatre District which is part of a selected census tract as well. Worcester is zoned to catalyze mixed-use development across the city with a focus on economic equity, opportunities for all, a thriving and vibrant downtown, fiscal responsibility and strong neighborhoods.

Detail specific opportunities for investment that exist in your nominated tract(s), including specific properties, business incubators and other avenues for business and personal property:

25027732500 - This tract encompasses area formerly occupied by the Wyman-Gordon facilities. The area is part of the Urban Renewal Plan and abuts the Green Island neighborhood including the Canal District. The mostly vacant industrial land has potential for significant redevelopment including a minor league baseball stadium, housing, hotels and other mixed-use development.

25027731700 - This tract encompasses the Downtown footprint of Worcester including a large portion of the Urban Renewal Area and the Theatre District TDI designated area. The tract is home to business incubators including the Innovation Center at 20 Franklin St<https://maps.google.com/?q=20+Franklin+St&entry=gmail&source=g>., Technocopia at the Printer's Building, and the Creative Hub on Ionic Ave. Other targeted properties for redevelopment include the former Unum Group office building at 18 Chestnut St<https://maps.google.com/?q=18+Chestnut+St&entry=gmail&source=g>., the Denholm building at 484 Main St<https://maps.google.com/?q=484+Main+St&entry=gmail&source=g>., and the former Worcester Market Building at 627 Main St<https://maps.google.com/?q=627+Main+St&entry=gmail&source=g>.

25027730500 - Stretching from Indian Lake to Highland St., this tract includes significant redevelopment opportunities. Most notably is unused space within the campus of St. Gobain (formerly Norton Company) as well as the struggling Greendale Mall. In addition, the area is dotted with former mill buildings prime for reuse.

25027732801- This tract includes large portions of Rt. 20 in Worcester. The corridor, with connections to the Mass Pike, Rt. 146 and Rt. 9, has been underutilized due to infrastructure deficiencies. Through a $20M investment from the State and City, municipal sewer service will be extended to the area for the first time. The sewers will open up opportunities for large scale manufacturing and commercial projects in what has been called Worcester's "last frontier."

25027731300 - Located in the Main South neighborhood near Clark University, this tract has seen significant investment over the past 30 years including improvements to the housing stock and the build-out of the Lofts at Loomworks located at 93 Grand St<https://maps.google.com/?q=93+Grand+St&entry=gmail&source=g>. Beacon St. and other parcels along Grand St. in particular are home to former industrial areas that include mill buildings prime for redevelopment. The tract also includes a proposed TDI designated area.

250277731400 - Extending from the Main South neighborhood to Park Ave, this tract includes a prime redevelopment opportunity being planned at the current YMCA on Main St. as well as a vacant property abutting Beaver Brook near Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium. The tract also includes a proposed TDI designated area.

Summarize recent investments that have taken place in the last five years, or investments that have been proposed but unable to be secured, and explain why those proposals were not successful.:

City Square is a $565 million multi-phased project in the heart of downtown Worcester that represents one of the largest public-private development projects in Massachusetts outside of the Boston Area. It includes the AC Marriott Hotel, Roseland Luxury Apartments, the Unum Group office tower, the St. Vincent Hospital Cancer Center, a 550-space underground garage and additional mixed-use and retail development.

Beginning with the redevelopment of the Hanover Theatre, the city's Theatre District has seen considerable new development within its boundaries. Included is the recently completed Conservatory for Performing Arts at 551 Main St<https://maps.google.com/?q=551+Main+St&entry=gmail&source=g>., part of a $10M investment in and around the theatre. Abutters include the Grid District, part of a $42M investment by MG2 group that includes the renovation of hundreds of existing residential units, five new restaurants, a beer garden and a comedy club. The Theatre District is a Transformative Development Initiative designated area that includes an equity investment by MassDevelopment at 526 Main St<https://maps.google.com/?q=526+Main+St&entry=gmail&source=g>.

Mercantile Center is adjacent to City Square and is comprised of a $75M investment by Franklin Realty resulting in two best-in-class office towers at 100 and 120 Front Street<https://maps.google.com/?q=120+Front+Street&entry=gmail&source=g> containing 642,300 square feet of office and retail space, and a 1,647 space structured parking garage.

Trinity Financial is investing $55M in the former Worcester Courthouse on Main St. and converting the property into 114 units of affordable and market rate housing. This redevelopment is one of many housing projects recently completed, underway or planned in the city.

The Canal District has been organically revitalized and serves as an entertainment destination with a number of bars, shops and restaurants. Programming events in the district have included the Blackstone Canal Fest, a year-round farmer's market, seasonal horse and wagon tours, race events, and walking tours. The City has invested in streetscape improvements and public safety enhancements. The neighborhood is also home to a new 38,000 SF indoor hockey facility with multiple retail and restaurant tenants.

A Biomanufacturing Park is being developed at the site of the former Worcester State Hospital campus and will result in 500 new jobs in life sciences and biomanufacturing. The State and the Worcester Business Development Corporation recently signed a land disposition agreement to redevelop the underutilized area.

What has inhibited investment in general in your nominated tract(s) and how will Opportunity Zone designation help you overcome that.:

Despite its ongoing renaissance, the City of Worcester still faces considerable obstacles in securing investment in areas of the city that are socioeconomically disadvantaged. The average median household income in Worcester is $46,105 compared to $67,846 statewide. 21.4 percent of Worcester families live below the poverty level. Although property costs are relatively low, area rents, specifically in the nominated tracts, do not adequately support the cost of new construction or adaptive reuse of existing infrastructure. The Opportunity Zone designation in the nominated tracts will catalyze increased development by creating a financing model that is sufficient for developers to secure a return on their investments.

Are there regional opportunities that will benefit from investments made in your nominated zone? For example, if there is a large vacant commercial building in the nominated zone, will residents of neighboring tracts or communities benefit if that building is occupied? Why are those regional benefits important?:

The City of Worcester serves as the economic, social and transportation hub for Central Massachusetts. With nine colleges and universities, a robust healthcare system, public transit and a critical mass of employers, the success of Worcester is inextricably linked to the success of the surrounding communities. In particular, investment in tract 25027732801 will benefit both Shrewsbury and Grafton as Rt. 20 connects Worcester to these towns and will allow for contiguous economic development throughout the corridor.

If you are applying for a contiguous zone designation (which requires income eligibility and is limited to 5 percent of the Commonwealth's overall designations), please describe why the zone should be so considered, and, because such a designation requires a contiguous eligible low income census tract to also be designated, describe why the designations of two zones instead of just the one is important.:

The City is not applying for a contiguous zone designation.

Joshua Martunas
Staff Assistant & Records Access Officer
Office of the City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr.
P: 508-799-1175 ext. 31302
F: 508-799-1208

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