August 23, 2017

Northworks buildings to be demolished for parking

Grant Welker
This building at 112R Grove St. and another at 106 Grove St. are set to be demolished for parking.
Grant Welker
106 Grove St., a largely unused building set to be demolished to make way for parking.

Two underutilized warehouses behind the Northworks complex in Worcester will be demolished to make way for more parking.

Knocking down the buildings, with a combined roughly 68,000 square feet of space, will allow the rest of Northworks to be renovated and more fully occupied, Patrick Doherty, a principal at MidPoint Engineering + Consulting of Auburn, told the city's Historical Commission last week.

Grove Street Family Properties, the owner of the two buildings being demolished, owns two larger buildings in the Northworks retail and office development, including 85 Prescott St. and 100 Grove St.

"There's very minimal parking for users in the building," Doherty said.

The commission approved the demolition, 4-1, with member Robyn Conroy opposed, on Aug. 17.

Commission Chairman Andrew Shveda reluctantly approved, calling the need for more parking a necessary evil.

"This assembly of buildings is very important, perhaps not architecturally, but very importantly historically and culturally to the city," he said. "This was the center of literally tens of thousands of people's lives in the city, and really made the city what it is today."

The plan was supported by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, whose director of government affairs and public policy, Stuart Loosemore, called Northworks a growing commercial hub in the city.

The group Preservation Worcester was more concerned with the loss of part of what it says is a historically significant site, the former Washburn & Moen mill complex. The site was one of the earliest manufacturers of wire, said Susan McDaniel Ceccacci, the group's education director.

"Worcester has been so easy to lose buildings of significance and buildings of unusual character," Ceccacci said at the historical commission meeting.

Doherty, the engineer for the project, said at the hearing the two buildings proposed for demolition aren't major pieces of the city's historical architecture and renovating them for use would only put a further strain on parking.

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