Under a hot, sunny sky, city and state officials gathered with more than 100 members of the public Thursday to unveil the new intersection of Front and Mercantile streets as the latest phase in Worcester's CitySquare development.
Standing before a large, mesh construction curtain that would later unveil the new intersection behind it, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said it was the first time most residents of Worcester would be looking from Main Street to Washington Square and City Hall to Union Station. It was the first time since city blocks were torn down for the building of the Worcester Common Fashion Outlets mall in 1967 that there was such an open view of the city.
As sounds of construction machinery could be heard behind him, Murray, Worcester's former mayor, said, "The mall was built with good intentions, but it was a mistake." He said it had a "brutal, hulking presence."
Officials spoke of the new CitySquare connecting downtown to other parts of the city that had always been divided by the mall.
City Manager Michael O'Brien said people with negative outlooks on the project and city were regrouping Thursday as they saw the success being made in CitySquare.
Touting the promise of the development, as well as the commitment of Unum and St. Vincent Hospital's cancer center making CitySquare their home, he said, "Worcester's success is the region's success."
Frederick H. Eppinger, president and CEO of The Hanover Insurance Group, said private sources have invested $125 million into the development and he's eager for more.
When the curtain was lowered, Johnny Nash's 1972 hit single, "I Can See Clearly Now," played and Murray invited the crowd to walk down the new Front Street extension to look across the city without any barriers.