Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

September 23, 2020

Worcester economic committee to review new deal for Polar Park-related development

Photo | Courtesy | Worcester Red Sox A rendering of Polar Park and a mixed-use development that's proposed for around the ballpark

The Worcester City Council's economic development committee will review the city's proposed new agreement with a developer looking to build next to the under-construction Polar Park baseball stadium.

The council voted Tuesday to pass the proposed agreement to a subcommittee for study and a public hearing. The agreement between the city and Boston developer Madison Properties covers Madison's plans for a hotel, 350 residential units and office and retail space. 

The proposal deal is an update between the two sides reflecting a few changes since the ballpark and the mixed-use development were proposed in 2018. The development is now proposed for fewer hotel rooms and has been delayed, with buildings proposed to open in phases between September 2022 and the end of 2024.

That development, which will mostly take place across Madison Street from Polar Park, is expected to create enough new tax revenue to offset much of the cost of the city building the ballpark. The stadium, with a most recent cost of roughly $132 million, is expected to open by next April.

The city's agreement with Madison Properties includes five city tax breaks and a schedule of when each building is expected to open. Legal remedies, such as penalties for either side not sticking to stipulations, will be included in a separate land disposition agreement, said Michael Traynor, the city solicitor and head of the city's law department.

"It's a commitment that says if we do certain things, he's going to do certain things," City Manager Edward Augustus said of the agreement, referring to Madison President Denis Dowdle.

A land disposition agreement is nearly final to transfer the ballpark property to the city from Madison. The deadline for that land conveyance was originally April 2019. The Worcester Redevelopment Authority is scheduled to vote on an agreement Friday.

In May, councilors formally requested more information about the ballpark's timeline and the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, which halted construction for seven weeks in the early spring. Further information has yet to be presented publicly, but on Tuesday councilors expressed continued support for the project as well as a desire for more information in the ballpark's final six months of construction.

"I want to congratulate the administration for sticking to it, but I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I was concerned being in the real estate business, with the delay in the transaction of the land," City Councilor George Russell said of the delay in Madison Properties giving the ballpark site to the city.

Construction has taken place using a series of right-of-entry agreements, the most recent of which expires at the end of September.

The council's economic development committee doesn't yet have a scheduled hearing for the agreement. Augustus said there's not much wiggle room for changes in the deal at this stage.

"It would be difficult to go back and renegotiate aspects of it based on feedback," he said.

The city expects to pay for the ballpark, with extra revenue left over, through revenue created by Madison's development and other new growth in a special tax district surrounding Polar Park. Businesspeople have told the city they've chosen to open businesses or propose projects elsewhere in the city because of the Pawtucket Red Sox moving to Worcester next spring, Augustus said.

Dowdle said in a letter to Augustus made public Monday that Madison remains committed to the project and that the project has raised what he called significant funds through the federal Opportunity Zone program. Madison plans to break ground this fall on a residential building slated to open in roughly two years.


Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners

Related Content


Order a PDF