Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is announcing an agreement with O'Connell Development Group of Holyoke (ODG) naming the firm as the designated developer for the next building at Gateway Park. Under the agreement, WPI will ground-lease one of the park's four remaining pad-ready sites to ODG, which will finance, develop, construct and own the new building. An April groundbreaking is planned.
"This is an important step for WPI, for Gateway Park, and for the continued economic growth of Worcester and Central Massachusetts," said WPI President and CEO Dennis Berkey. "With the ongoing support of our city, state and federal partners, coupled with the expertise of the O'Connell Development Group, we are looking forward to advancing the mission of Gateway Park as a center of research, commerce and innovation that creates a potent economic development engine for this region."
Located at 50 Prescott Street in Worcester, the new building will be a four-story, 92,000 square-foot facility designed to achieve LEED certification, with laboratory, educational and office spaces for a range of academic and corporate uses. The $30 million project will support some 120 construction jobs and 140 permanent jobs when the building is fully occupied.
"We are pleased to provide this sustainably designed, state-of-the-art office and laboratory building in Gateway Park and look forward to a long and productive association with Gateway Park and WPI," said Dennis A. Fitzpatrick, president of The O'Connell Companies. "Our investment in this new building is evidence of our confidence in WPI's vision for Gateway Park and in the City of Worcester's future as a thriving economic center."
Approximately half of the new building is already leased, with WPI taking space for three university programs: the new Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center (BETC); an expanded Fire Protection Engineering Department and research laboratory; and the graduate division of WPI's School of Business. Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI) will lease space in the new building to create an incubator for emerging life sciences companies. Blue Sky Biotech, a contract research company now located at the WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center (LSBC) at Gateway Park, will also move into the new building to accommodate its continued growth. The fit-out of the BETC and MBI laboratory elements of the new building will be funded, in large part, by a $5.2 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center awarded last year.
To date, WPI has invested $65 million in Gateway Park, a comprehensive urban redevelopment project that has transformed a blighted and underutilized area in the core of the city into a clean, thriving mixed-use park that is home to a growing range of academic, research and commercial enterprises. The first building at Gateway Park, the 125,000 square-foot LSBC, opened in 2007 and is fully occupied. Gateway's $12.5 million, 660-space parking garage also opened in 2007 and is sized to accommodate further development of the park.
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.