September 11, 2018

City Council to vote on $240M WooSox deal Wednesday

Courtesy | City of Worcester
A rendering of the Worcester Red Sox stadium in Worcester.

Approval of several items by the Worcester City Council on Wednesday evening could set in motion a massive redevelopment of the Canal District anchored by a $90-million ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Councilors will be asked to approve the borrowing of nearly $101 million to pay for the design, construction and land acquisition costs for the new home of the PawSox and a host of other ordinances intended to expedite the project, which must be completed in time for the 2021 baseball season.

Madison Downtown Holdings, the Boston-based developer proposing to build hotels, retail and apartments on the abutting Wyman-Gordon parcel, is also seeking tax increment financing deals for those separate projects. Madison also is seeking a waiver of the first $2 million of project permitting and inspection fees.

The expected vote comes after the council's Standing Committee of Economic Development held two public hearings on the project. Input from those meetings included requests for a community benefits agreement to ensure the character of the neighborhood is maintained and that local workers and vendors are given first priority.

The project must move quickly. Included in an agreement signed with the team, an owner's project manager must be chosen by Oct. 10 this year. Permitting, land acquisitions and other necessary steps must be done in time for construction to begin by July 1 next year.

City Hall is requesting the council's approval for the addition of a special project coordinator position to manage the project.

City Manager Edward Augustus and the team signed two separate letters of intent with the team and Madison on Aug. 17 after a year of negotiations to set the project in motion. In total, the public-private project is estimated to cost about $240 million.

Of the $101 million being borrowed by the city, the team will pick up $36 million in a combination of up-front cash and rent over a 30-year lease.

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