WPI and the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC) have revised their relationship at Gateway Park to enable both partners to advance their respective missions. WPI has agreed to acquire the WBDC's interests in Gateway Park, becoming the exclusive owner, while the WBDC will continue its Gateway Park development role on a consulting basis.
"WPI is committed to the long-term success of this mixed-use development and its revitalizing effect on our neighborhood," said WPI President Dennis Berkey. "We are grateful for the WBDC's initial vision, leadership, and investment, and for its continuing work to promote the growth and success of the Park," he continued.
With this acquisition, WPI will have invested $65 million in Gateway Park, which is home to a mix of academic, research and commercial enterprises. The first building at Gateway Park, WPI's 125,000-square-foot Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center (LSBC), opened in 2007 and is fully occupied. In addition to its vibrant academic and graduate research programs, the LSBC has as current tenants Blue Sky Biotech; CellThera; RXi Pharmaceuticals; and the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative's life sciences incubator, which houses several start-up companies.
With the transition in ownership at Gateway Park, the WBDC is following its business model that proved successful with the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park in Worcester and with other regional projects over the years. "The mission of the WBDC has always been to identify development projects that have the potential for significant public benefit, and work closely with partners in the early stages to help launch them successfully," said WBDC President David Forsberg. "WBDC and WPI worked together on the Gateway Park concept from its inception. We could not have had a better partner than WPI. Their commitment insures a bright future for Gateway and the revised relationship allows the WBDC to pursue new initiatives in downtown Worcester."
The Gateway Park project transformed a blighted and underutilized area in the core of the city into a clean, thriving development. Gateway's $12.5 million, 660-space parking garage also opened in 2007 and is sized to accommodate further development of the park. The next phase of development at Gateway, an 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art life sciences facility, is currently in the planning and design stage.
The Gateway Park project has been recognized as a national model of environmental stewardship and urban redevelopment. In 2007 the park won the prestigious Phoenix Award for its successful redevelopment of an old industrial site. Also in 2007 the U.S. Department of Commerce gave Gateway Park the Excellence in Economic Development Award for Urban or Suburban Economic Development. In 2008 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated Gateway Park as the anchor for the state’s first Growth District, a new initiative to accelerate job creation in locations that are primed and ready for development.