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February 12, 2021

Worcester Planning Board approves Creative Hub, housing, Polar Park plaza

Photo | Courtesy | Creative Hub Worcester | Gensler The main events center at the planned Creative Hub Worcester
Photo | Courtesy | City of Worcester A rendering of a proposed housing development at 222 Brooks St. in Worcester
Photo | Courtesy | City of Worcester A schematic drawing shows plans for a new plaza on the former Pickett municipal parking lot on the north end of Green Street in Worcester. The two-thirds-of-an-acre site is envisioned as a gateway to Polar Park for fans. A new road, Canal Street, will link to an extended Summit Street just outside the stadium.

The long-planned Creative Hub Worcester arts and performance space was approved by the Worcester Planning Board on Wednesday, along with a 111-unit housing development on Brooks Street and a plaza that'll lead fans to the Polar Park baseball stadium.

The Creative Hub Worcester project is slated to turn the former Worcester Boys Club on Ionic Avenue into an artist, education and events space, along with a daycare center to be run by Worcester nonprofit Guild of St. Agnes.

The proposal, for a site just off Main Street on the southern edge of downtown, has been a long time coming. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2015 and first set eyes on opening the facility in 2018. The Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston bought the site for Creative Hub Worcester in 2017 for $1.3 million.

Creative Hub Worcester has been spending recent years raising money for what was most recently pegged as an $8-million renovation to the old Boys Club building. An updated timetable for construction wasn't available.

The Planning Board also approved an 111-unit residential development planned for 222 Brooks St., on a wooded, hilly site across from the Showcase Cinemas in Worcester's Greendale neighborhood. The development, originally planned two include two buildings and proposed by Worcester-based GoVenture Capital Group, now has all of its units in one structure: 49 one-bedroom units, 34 studios and 28 two-bedroom units.

The city's plan to remake the Pickett municipal parking lot on the north end of Green Street into a plaza was also approved. The triangle-shaped lot, which is about two-thirds of an acre, will include a decorative water feature in tribute to the Blackstone Canal that once ran through the neighborhood.

Plans include removing existing pavement, adding sidewalks, lighting and utilities, and installing a 90-foot-long by 7-foot-wide water feature that'll include a 4-foot-high stone placed above the water on one end. Eventually, the plaza is slated to act as an entryway to Polar Park for fans arriving from downtown, with pop-up shops and eateries part of the plan. The state has given $3.5 million in MassWorks infrastructure funds to cover the costs of the project.

A fourth project that was approved Wednesday is a cannabis retail shop slated to replace an old Verizon store at 15-17 Mountain Road East in a small shopping plaza. The store would be a second location for the Vault, which already has a store at 70 Worcester Road in Webster.

Another project slated to go before the Planning Board, a proposed 51-unit development off Millbury Street, was postponed to a March 24 public hearing.

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