September 10, 2018

Canal Lofts developer to build $20M autism school in Lincoln Square

Photo | Grant Welker
The former Lincoln Square Boys Club building could be redeveloped for use as a school for children with autism.

The City of Worcester is set to sell the long-vacant former Lincoln Square Boys Club building to a Boston-based developer for $300,000.

The developer, WinnDevelopment Co. of Boston, plans spend at least $20 million to convert the 48,000-square-foot building into the new home of Summit Academy, a therapeutic school alternative for students with high-functioning autism and other disabilities, according to City Manager Edward Augustus.

The structure, built in 1915, was last used by Worcester Vocational High School but has been vacant and unused since 2007.

Augustus, in written correspondence to the City Council for its Tuesday meeting, said WinnDevelopment will take ownership of the property by the end of the year pending a structural integrity analysis performed by the company.

The company will increase its Worcester portfolio with the project, which comes after 50 years of redevelopment work in Worcester. Projects include senior community Coes Pond Village, Wellington Community, the Canal Lofts and Voke Lofts.

The company's new undertaking, via a partnership with Preservation Worcester, will seek to dramatically transform the structure.

In communication with Augustus, Winn said there are significant issues with the building's core and shell to be addressed for any reuse. Other issues with the building limited the potential new tenants to a niche occupant.

Summit fit that profile, Winn said. With its move from Jamesbury Street, Summit plans to expand programming for middle and high school students and begin an entirely new program by offering on-site, dorm-style living for college-bound students.

The academy has already entered into agreements with colleges and universities for the service, Winn said.

The academy would dedicate about half of the building to middle and high school programming while the other would be used for the new higher education on-site living program.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2019 and is estimated for completion by summer 2020.

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