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September 14, 2020

Planned $23M parking garage for Polar Park delayed

Photo | Grant Welker The planned site of a parking garage across Madison Street from Polar Park

A planned Worcester parking garage for more than 500 spaces meant to help with vehicle traffic for baseball games at Polar Park has been delayed, with an undetermined finish date next year.

The garage was originally slated to open by Feb. 1, but — like the mixed-use development it's a part of — has been delayed since plans were first unveiled just over two years ago. All those projects are part of the move of the minor league baseball team Pawtucket Red Sox to the new $132-million stadium in Worcester's Canal District, which is planned for April.

The city said in a statement Thursday to the Worcester Business Journal construction of the garage has been delayed by a series of factors, including the estimate, timing and design of the adjoining hotels that are part of the development proposed by Boston developer Madison Properties.

The new schedule is under review, city spokesman Walter Bird said, but has a completion set for next year.

The Worcester Redevelopment Authority approved more than $23 million for the garage project in April. 

Approved costs have gone up slightly since. The authority approved $118,500 in June because of what Peter Dunn, the city's chief development officer, told the authority were needs for additional site environmental remediation because of issues discovered during excavation. Another $149,000 was approved in July for extra labor costs for both the garage site and an office building slated to be built beyond Polar Park's left field wall.

The garage will be built by the city and leased to Madison Properties. Both will be part of Madison Properties' unnamed proposed development.

To handle WooSox traffic before the garage is completed, Bird said, there are nearly 6,000 parking spaces within a half-mile radius of Polar Park, plus the currently vacant site of the mixed-use development on the opposite side of Madison Street from Polar Park, which will be used for temporary parking. Other parking options previously cited by the city for parking for fans for the 10,000-capacity ballpark include the Federal Plaza garage at 570 Main St. and the Worcester Common garage at 3 Eaton Place.

The development planned by Madison Properties has called for 945,000 square feet of space, including around 200 hotel rooms and more than 300 apartments, along with retail and office uses. The city's development agreement with Madison Properties, which is non-binding, called for the first phase of development to open early next year to coincide with the first games at Polar Park. Work, however, has not begun, and no updated timetable has been given since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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