April 17, 2019

Worcester improvement district lands executive director, vendor

Photo | Grant Welker
Downtown Worcester is planned for improvements ranging from streetside beautification to new marketing and events as part of the new Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District.
Image | WBJ
The new Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District expects to raise more than $900,000 a year from tax surcharges on properties in the neighborhood.

Heading into its first spring, a new entity planning improvements for downtown Worcester now has an executive director and a vendor to help carry out its goals.

Evelyn Darling will become the head of the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District on Monday, ahead of what the district plans as a formal launch in mid-May.

Darling will have help from one of the biggest vendors in streetscape work. The firm Streetplus has signed a contract with the district to hire so-called ambassadors to help keep streets clean and answer any questions visitors may have. Streetplus has other operations in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

Those workers will be one of many visible changes planned for the neighborhood, along with what could be new marketing initiatives and events. District leaders have said they hope to bring in roughly $950,000 a year through tax surcharges on properties in the zone.

The 78-acre business district includes a wide swath of downtown Worcester, from the Hanover Theatre to Mercantile Center, Saint Vincent Hospital and much of MCPHS University. The district includes roughly 140 properties valued at as much as $62 million each.

The district received overwhelming support from property owners and was approved by the City Council last November.

Darling will oversee day-to-day operations of the district, working with Streetplus and the district's board of directors, which includes public officials and representatives from property owners in the neighborhood.

Darling has experience with other community development groups, having led for a decade the Fields Corner Main Street program in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. She was the director of community development for Dorchester's Vietnamese-American Initiative for Development.

Darling's work in Worcester will return her to the city where she studied as an undergraduate. She has a bachelor's degree from Clark University, as well as a master's from Northwestern University in Illinois.


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