Gateway to Prosperity
Squeezed for usable space, Worcester's biggest hope for economic expansion lies in reclaiming former industrial sites, known as brownfields because of past chemical contamination. The city has an estimated 600 potential "brownfield opportunity areas," including some of the city's oldest factories and abandoned gas stations. Mayor Tim Murray estimates that developing all of these sites for commercial use could boost their value to $1 billion, adding $30 million to the city's tax revenues.
All eyes are currently on one particular brownfields project, Gateway Research Park at WPI, an 11-acre multi-use complex on Prescott Street now being developed through a partnership involving WPI, the not-for-profit Worcester Business Development Corp., and Landstone Management.
The complex is already home to the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science at WPI and the university's Bioengineering Institute (BEI). In the planning stage is a new four-story building that will house BEI and provide rental space to startup medical and high-tech firms.
Gateway Park, which is expected to generate 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs for the region, is slated to be the epicenter of a revitalized 63-acre neighborhood of mixed-use housing and commercial and office space adjacent to downtown Worcester.
Student projects completed at the WCPC have played an important role in the development of this important initiative.
- In 2004, students created a database of eligible properties for the mayor's Brownfields Property and Business Owners Education and Outreach Committee. This catalog of eligible sites will serve as a central source for information on ownership, past usage, known contamination, zoning status, and utility service for each area.
- In 2003, they produced policy recommendations to the mayor and city manager on the development and lending procedures governed by the Community Reinvestment Act, based on input from lenders, developers, and local government officials.
- In 2000, they compiled research that made it possible to identify sources and hazards of contaminants and to rule out historical and architectural restrictions that would prevent redevelopment.
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Last modified: Sep 09, 2004, 17:36 EDT