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October 14, 2020

Worcester City Council approves new deal for Polar Park-related development

Photo | Courtesy | Worcester Red Sox Polar Park in Worcester is planned to be surrounded by new development, at right and in the background, planned by Madison Properties.

The Worcester City Council unanimously and without discussion on Tuesday night approved a new development agreement for a key project related to the $132-millon Polar Park baseball stadium for the Worcester Red Sox.

The deal between the City and Madison Properties lays out when the Boston-based firm will finish building each of five proposed buildings, with construction on the first — a residential building across Madison Street from the ballpark — slated to start this fall. It would open in just under two years.

The agreement also covers city tax breaks for each of those buildings, lasting between 10 and 15 years, as well as waiving $2.3 million in permitting fees, an increase from the $2 million the sides initially agreed to in 2018.

The City Council's economic development committee previously voted to recommend approval by the full council. It was OK'd without any discussion Tuesday.

Madison Properties' development is being relied on by the city to make up the bulk of new tax revenue that city officials insist will enable the city-owned Polar Park to more than pay for itself. The ballpark's cost as of January was pegged at $132 million, but no further updates have been given by the city administration. Other revenue will come from a special tax district surrounding the ballpark, as well as from ticket and parking revenue.

The proposal from Madison calls for 945,000 square feet of space, including 125 hotel rooms and 350 apartments, along with retail and office uses. That's a reduction from a previously planned 262 hotel rooms, and an associated parking garage has been reduced by more than a third and delayed past a planned opening date for the Worcester Red Sox at Polar Park next April. The development's other buildings have been delayed by either one or two years, with full build-out now planned for the end of 2024.

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