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May 28, 2019

Augustus to propose vacant Worcester storefront assistance program

Photo/Grant Welker Worcester City Hall

Worcester City Councilors will be asked Tuesday evening to adopt a new special tax district intended to encourage business owners to occupy vacant storefronts. 

The proposed Certified Vacant Storefront District would include Main Street from the former Worcester County Courthouse to May and Hammond Streets; Pleasant Street from the intersection of Main Street to the intersection of Park Avenue; and Chandler Street from Main Street to Park Avenue. 

In a letter to the City Council, City Manager Edward Augustus said the proposal builds on the city’s previous economic development efforts in the downtown area, including infrastructure upgrades. 

Other city-owned improvement projects include a building facade improvement program and aggressive action by the Worcester Redevelopment Authority to seek eminent domain at vacant or underutilized properties. 

The district, part of a pilot program from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and the state Economic Assistance Coordinating Council, allows business owners occupying a storefront vacant for at least one year can apply for a $10,000 tax credit.

However, the respective municipality must first apply for designation of the district.

Businesses would apply directly to the state agencies for the award with a letter of support from the city or town. Any given municipality can only receive up to two awards through the program annually. 

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