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July 12, 2023

Menkiti expands Worcester downtown redevelopment effort with another Main Street acquisition

Photo | Courtesy of Google Maps Washington D.C.-based developer The Menkiti Group acquired 526 Main St. from MassDevelopment.

The Menkiti Group, a Washington D.C.-based developer which has been acquiring and redeveloping several underused properties throughout downtown Worcester, has officially acquired 526 Main St., a two-story commercial building, once home to a pawn shop and check-cashing business.

The Menkiti Group won a 2017 request for proposals by MassDevelopment, aimed at developing the building. The property was conveyed to the developer for $10 in a MassDevelopment transaction recorded on July 7 by the Worcester District Registry of Deeds. MassDevelopment acquired the property for $800,000 in 2017, through its Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Equity Investment Program.

MassDevelopment also provided Menkiti, through two affiliates, with three loans totalling $6.9 million for redevelopment of the property. One of the loans, in the amount of $1.1 million is a bridge loan in anticipation of monetizing state tax credits.

The Menkiti Group will create a co-working space and a creative maker space on the second floor of the building, according to a Wednesday press release from Menkiti. As a result, the Collaborative Workspace Program, administered by MassDevelopment, will provide the developer with a $250,000 grant.

The first floor of the building will be dedicated to retail and restaurant space. Menkiti Group owns the neighboring property as well, 554 Main St., a five-story commercial building with retail space on the first floor. A seafood chain, The Shaking Crab will be moving into that neighboring building after ironing out some difficulties with a ventilation system, according to a report by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

“526 Main Street is a jewel box of a structure located at an extremely high visibility intersection in Downtown Worcester,” Mark Rengel, Menkiti vice president of development, said in the press release. “It has played an important role in the retail landscape for more than a century, and we are excited for the building to recognize its full potential."

Construction will be led by Boylston contractor RP Masiello, which worked with Menkiti Group redeveloping a former YMCA building around the corner from 526 Main St. into the Chatham Lofts, a market-rate apartment building. 

The project’s design team is led by Providence-based ZDS Architecture & Interior Design in collaboration with Building Engineering Resources of North Easton, Worcester’s Graves Engineering, and Roome and Guarracino, a Woburn-based engineering firm. 

The project team at The Menkiti Group attained an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits from RBC Community Development, a subsidiary of Toronto-based RBC Capital Market with additional financing support from Minnesota-based US Bank and the MassDevelopment. 

With the assistance of historic consultant Epsilon Associates of Maynard, The Menkiti Group qualified the project to receive both Federal and State Historic Tax Credits. Following the complete rehabilitation of the structure, the building will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Menkiti Group hopes to continue redeveloping properties in downtown Worcester as it is one of two finalists to redevelop The Denholm Building at 484 Main St. In that proposal the developer referenced its intentions to acquire the former Registry of Motor Vehicles site at 611 Main St. 

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