December 11, 2017

CitySquare II marketing one of last Downtown Worcester development sites

Grant Welker
A building of up to eight stories and 200,000 square feet is envisioned on part of what's now a landscaped area, the last buildable parcel on the former Galleria mall site.

Progress for rebuilding on the site of the former Galleria mall has been methodical, with some pieces becoming useful again well before others.

Front Street was extended, and Saint Vincent opened a cancer center center. The city attracted Unum to be the anchor of a new seven-story tower. A 365-unit apartment complex is nearing completion at the corner of Front and Foster streets, and an AC Hotel is slated to open next March.

One last buildable site remains: an open space above the Worcester Common Garage between Unum and the cancer care center.

The site, which spans the parking garage arching along Foster Street, is now a landscaped open space left for a building of up to eight stories.

The real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle has been hired to market the site for sale by owner CitySquare II Development Co. LLC, an affiliate of Opus Investments, the investment arm of the Hanover Insurance Group in Worcester. No price has been given.

CitySquare's intention was always to sell the site — known through the planning process as Parcel F — said Pamela Jonah, a spokeswoman for the site owner. The timing of the sale is being done now because other components of the former mall site have opened or are nearing completion, she said.

Courtesy/CitySquare II
A 2005 plan shows a curved building for the last buildable site on the former Galleria property.

A 2005 plan by CitySquare called for four ground-level restaurants in the building, with other housing and retail uses. But the plan was a rough guide, and other aspects of the site's redevelopment have shifted away from those details.

A building of up to about 200,000 square feet -- slightly larger than the Unum building, or about half the size of AbbVie's headquarters off Route 9 -- could host retail, office or a mix of uses, said Philip DeSimone, a managing director with JLL.

"This could be a company that's in Worcester, or coming from outside Worcester," DeSimone said.

JLL is creating a marketing brochure for the site and will work on a name for it — because it doesn't have an address, DeSimone said.

The parcel would likely be one of the largest of newer office buildings in Worcester in recent years. The seven-story Unum building was built in 2012. A 12,000-square-foot medical office building at 70 Elm St. was built in 2014, and a 20,000-square-foot office building is nearing completion at 435 Shrewsbury St.

Other office space downtown has recently been renovated. Mercantile Center, which also sits on part of the former mall site, totals 636,000 square feet, most of which is office space. That complex, which also includes more than 50,000 square feet of planned retail space, has been overhauled as part of a $36-million renovation dating back to last year.

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