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November 28, 2018

Worcester willing to resort to eminent domain for seven potential WooSox properties

Photo | Courtesy A rendering of the new home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, soon to be the Worcester Red Sox.

Worcester officials on Tuesday cleared up concerns about possible land takings and demolitions of Canal District buildings to make way for the $240-million ballpark project for the Pawtucket Red Sox and a mixed use development.

The Worcester Redevelopment Authority is seeking to amend a 2016 Urban Renewal Plan  by expanding it by 21 acres to include 33 more properties. The new document calls for the possible demolition of 18 additional buildings for the project.

Of those properties, 24 are eyed for possible action, but City Manager Edward Augustus said at Tuesday's City Council meeting only seven are currently in the city’s crosshairs for the ballpark project.

Per the plan, those properties include the north side of Madison Street and the vacant Wyman-Gordon property, four parcels east of Washington Street containing light industrial uses and two small parcels near the intersection of Washington and Madison Streets.

The other properties discussed are only included for future development opportunities after the overall $240-million project is completed.

“We have no plans to take any property other than property that has previously been identified for the ballpark,” he said.

Those properties are hoped to be acquired via a purchase agreement. If that is unsuccessful, the city could try eminent domain, Augustus said.

The city’s Chief Development Officer Michael Traynor said state regulations require a list of every property within the Urban Renewal Plan’s boundaries. That doesn't mean every property is what he called an action property.

The expanded plan was unveiled in a state environmental regulatory filing, which is a precursor to the city’s filing of an amended plan to the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

The full list of properties involved in the ballpark project and Urban Renewal Plan will be listed in that filing, to be unveiled at the WRA’s meeting next week.

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