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September 5, 2023

Multiple Downtown Worcester businesses displaced by flooding

Photo | Timothy Doyle One Exchange Place suffered an electrical malfunction after a heavy rainstorm in August.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated on Monday with information about Michael's Cigar Bar's closure.

Several Worcester businesses have been unable to operate at One Exchange Place in Downtown Worcester, after heavy rains in mid-August flooded the transformer vault in the building.

Tenants have been unable to enter the building without an escort since August 18, according to a Monday press release from Live Action Escapes, one of the tenants. 

The Worcester Fire Department and city inspector deemed that structure was unsafe to operate in because of the lack of electricity, and the property owners told the tenants that it would be best to find new locations, the press release said.

Live Action Escapes opened at the location in 2016 and will be moving to a new location at 415 Main St. The business’ owner Michael Paquin said he was lucky because he was already planning on moving to the new location, but that the closure affected the buildout of the new location by interrupting revenues.

“It is devastating for our business, for now,” said Paquin on Tuesday.

Paquin had intended to open the new location all at once, but now expects to open in phases, beginning with two games in two to three weeks. Eventually, the new larger space will add more games, a new smash-room type experience and an art gallery to exhibit local artists’ work.

Criminal Defense and personal injury law firm Aloise & Wilcox announced that it left its office at Exchange Place and will reopen Tuesday at its new location at 19 Cedar St. In an August 28 Facebook post, the law firm said that the building’s sump pumps failed.

Michael’s Cigar Bar has operated at Exchange Place since 2009. Managing Partner Mark Esperti posted on Instagram Friday that he will close the Exchange Place location as a result of the electrical issue and seek a new location in Worcester.

Photo | Timothy Doyle
One Exchange Place, Worcester

The three-building property is owned by Ballybreen Ventures of Hingham, and managed by Worcester’s NAI | Glickman Kovago & Jacobs. It was purchased by a Ballybreen affiliate Exchange Waldo, LLC of Hingham in 2018 for $2.5 million. In addition to office and restaurant spaces, the developer planned to build 45 apartments, according to the Ballybreen website.

In his Instagram post Esperti said that the landlord plans on building out the apartments over the next 12-18 months.

Ballybreen Principal Hugh McLaughlin did not return an email requesting more information on Tuesday morning.

The company also owns 154-156 Main St. in Worcester, a commercial and residential building.

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