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September 15, 2016

Worcester granted eminent domain powers for $96M revitalization

Destination Worcester via Flickr Worcester officials say they will use the eminent domain power as a measure of last resort.

An urban revitalization plan covering 118 acres in downtown Worcester has been approved by the state, opening up the city to leverage the power of eminent domain on 24 properties singled out in the plan.

The city announced Thursday the state Department of Housing & Community Development had approved the plan. The objective of the plan is to keep development moving along, focusing on underused properties such as brownfields and upper floors of downtown buildings that have remained vacant for more than 20 years, according to the city.

The plan enables the city to take property from certain owners through the eminent domain process and sell them to other developers. According to city officials, this is a last-ditch effort, but one the city is willing to undertake.

The plan was developed over the past year by city officials and members of the Worcester Redevelopment Authority in conjunction with consultant BSC Group. The plan represents a potential investment of approximately $96 million, which includes the cost of all public infrastructure upgrades, in-kind services, potential acquisitions, demolitions and relocation of businesses, according to the city.

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