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February 26, 2020

Development surrounding WooSox stadium approved for four more tax breaks

Photo | Grant Welker Construction in January of a planned mixed-use development across Madison Street from Polar Park

The Worcester City Council has approved four new tax breaks for a mixed-use development slated to rise across Madison Street from the $132-million Polar Park public baseball stadium.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve tax agreements for four components of the project being undertaken by Boston-based Madison WG Holdings and its owner Denis Dowdle: a dual-branded hotel with 262 rooms, a 121,000-square-foot commercial building, a 60,000-square-foot commercial building, and a 125-unit residential building.

Those agreements add to what's already substantial public financing support for Polar Park and new development expected to complement the stadium.

The city is borrowing money to pay for building the ballpark, for which costs have risen by roughly $30 million since the project's initial approval to now hit more than $132 million. The Pawtucket Red Sox, who will move into the ballpark and become the Worcester Red Sox in April 2021, are paying $43.5 million toward those public costs.

The City Council previously approved a tax break for Dowdle for an office building expected to rise beyond Polar Park's left field wall.

The four new tax breaks approved Tuesday don't specify how much Dowdle will save on his tax bill. The buildings will have a combined value of $73 million, according to the contracts. The tax breaks will take the form of tax-increment financing agreements and range from 10 to 15 years.

[Related: WuXi seeks $11.5M tax break for $60M Worcester facility]

Other public funding is also playing a role in remaking the Canal District.

The state is paying $23 million for a parking garage on Dowdle's development site to accommodate the project's own tenants and visitors, along with those for the ballpark and surrounding businesses. Another $12 million will subsidize market-rate housing. A smaller city tax break of $838,000 was approved in 2017 for the Kelley Square building where the Worcester Public Market opened this month.

Two other state grants have gone to benefit projects just outside the development and the ballpark, but both given with the ballpark in mind: a $16-million overhaul of the Kelley Square intersection, and a $3.5-million rebuilding of the General Pickett city parking lot at 45 Green St. into a new plaza leading to the ballpark.

Photo | Grant Welker
Crews are building the area around what will be Polar Park's home plate area off Madison Street.

The City Council voted Feb. 11 to approve a $4.6-million tax break for Table Talk Pies, which is planning to relocate from a facility next to Polar Park to a new site in Main South on Gardner Street.

As for Dowdle's project, site work is underway but the project won't open as soon as initial documents described. The first phase of the development was originally said to open by Jan. 1, 2021 in an agreement reached in 2018 between the city and Dowdle. That date has been moved back for all aspects of the project.

  • A 225-unit residential building is set to open by September 2021, and a second one, with 125 units, by the end of 2022. Those buildings will also have approximately 3,000 and 20,000 square feet of retail space each.
  • Conjoined hotels of 140 and 122 rooms each are slated to open by May 2022.
  • The 121,000-square-foot commercial building is targeted to open by the end of 2023.
  • The left field building isn’t targeted for completion until Sept. 1, 2021, but the core of the structure is planned to be done by the Red Sox opening date in April 2021.

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March 8, 2020

I run a small business in Worcester and pay ridiculous property taxes. How about giving me a tax break and letting the multimillionaires who own this team pay a little more of their share?

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