Grid District developer purchases MetroPCS building

BY Grant Welker
Zachary Comeau

Grant Welker
Grant Welker
The MetroPCS building on Main Street is slated to be part of MG2's Grid District development.

A developer that’s transformed the southern edge of the Worcester Common as the mixed-use Grid District has purchased the former MetroPCS building around the corner on Main Street for $450,000. 
The five-story, 7,400-square-foot building was assessed for $210,000, according to the city.
Five Seventeen Main LLC was listed as the buyer and Josen Donovan, vice president of Boston-based developers MG2, is listed as the manager of that entity.
He could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
MG2 has already invested heavily in the area, making the Grid District a draw for a growing student and young-adult population downtown. The developer knocked down the Paris Cinema last year to make way for a three-season Beer Garden, which is expected to open this spring.
The Grid District also includes Stix Noodle Bar, which opened last month, and the cafe Brew on the Grid. Just across Portland Street, Revolution Pie + Pint and Craft Table & Bar are expected to open this spring as part of a comedy club called Woohaha. Techni Mediterranean Grill, around the corner of Portland Street, closed in January but is slated to reopen soon as The Missing Link.
According to the company’s website, MG2 controls over 5 acres of land and dozens of properties in the area, including almost 475 residential units and 45,000 square feet of existing retail space and the potential to build up to 350,000 square feet of additional space.
The MetroPCS building, historically known as the Cheney-Ballard Building, and the adjacent the Great Wall Chinese restaurant at 521 Main St., which has a different owner, have been eyed for potential purchase by the city as part of its downtown redevelopment plan. 
When the Worcester City Council approved the 118-acre redevelopment zone in 2016, it gave the Worcester Redevelopment Authority the power to take properties by eminent domain if needed. 
The MetroPCS site was built in 1955 and was owned by James Isperduli of Paxton, who died last April. The Great Wall site, at 521 Main St., was built in 1930, is owned by Mindy Jiang Realty Trust and was last assessed at $296,900, according to city records.
Both properties are eyed by the city for first-floor commercial floor and upper-floor residences.
The two sites are among six that were singled out by the city for rehabilitation under the revitalization plan because both have suffered from disinvestment for years, Michael Traynor, Worcester's top development official as CEO of WRA, said last summer. Upper stories in both buildings have been vacant for 15 to 20 years and are out of compliance with today's building codes, he said. 
The adjoining sites are part of a large 20-year downtown urban renewal plan, from just past Front Street in the north to the area around the intersection of Southbridge Street and Quinsigamond Avenue, including many vacant or contaminated parcels like the Wyman-Gordon site. In all, the zone includes 380 properties covering around 67 businesses and 214 condominium units.