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April 12, 2019

WRA begins eminent domain process for two ballpark properties

Photo | Grant Welker The city will move forward with an eminent domain process to acquire properties needed for the ballpark, including this site, home to Paul's Mobile Auto Glass.

The Worcester Redevelopment Authority is now using eminent domain to go after at least two Canal District properties needed for the $101-million Polar Park baseball stadium development 

Those properties are 127 Washington St., the home of Paul’s Auto Glass and 134 Madison St., the home to smoke shop and CBD retailer Sublime Co.

The WRA approved an order of taking for those properties and a third, 50 Washington St., which includes a small warehouse housing AMC Demolition and an ambulance service facility.

Worcester Chief Development Officer Michael Traynor said there is an agreed-upon purchase price for Washington St. for $800,000. It was last assessed for $275,800. 

After the meeting, Traynor said the WRA's offers, which are hoped to be the final acquisition prices, are $310,000 for 127 Washington St., $265,000 for 134 Madison St., which were last assessed for $161,600 and $153,900, respectively. 

Neither of the owners of 134 Madison St. and 127 Washington St. Accepted the city’s offer, which Traynor said reflected the high end of two independent appraisals. 

“We’re reserving our rights, and we’ll see what happens as we move forward,” Traynor said. 

Without identifying the property, Traynor said one owner has retained a lawyer and denied an offer but is still open to negotiations. Another owner never responded to an offer. 

Per statute, the WRA has 60 days to pay for the properties once the order of taking is recorded, Traynor said. Those businesses will be eligible for relocation benefits, per state law.

The overall $240-million project to build a 10,000-seat ballpark for the relocating Pawtucket Red Sox adjacent to a related mixed-use development is behind schedule, according to a deal between the team and city signed last August.

Land needed for the project was to be acquired by April 1, per the deal. Madison Downtown Holdings, the developer behind the mixed-use development, already paid $6.1 million last month for the former Wyman-Gordon land. 

Demolition of buildings is hoped to begin in June with ballpark construction to begin in July. 

The WRA also approved Friday the design and construction of a $23-million parking garage to support the project. That will be at least partially funded by a grant from MassWorks.

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