CitySquare and a Hopeful Outlook for 2014
For anyone that is interested in the fate of CitySquare in Worcester, it can sometimes be challenging to find any news on the subject and so I am writing my own update about the progress. Despite the numerous delays that have plagued CitySquare so far, it seems as though 2014 could be the beginning of a more vibrant time for the city.
While Worcester has yet to create a downtown district that is shown in the above picture, CitySquare is definitely on the move. I noticed the other day that the old mall, the Worcester Galleria / Worcester Common Outlets, is finally being demolished in it's entirety. For years the mall has languished in a state of partial demolition, but the last bits are finally being torn down.
2013 brought a few new key features to CitySquare, but it seemed for a time as though the progress may stop there. Last year, Unum opened it's brand new building downtown, and St. Vincent opened a new cancer treatment center as well. Front Street and Mercantile Street were both opened to the public and Union Station saw the creation of a new WRTA bus terminal. And then everything seemed to stop.
Now that the snow has melted, 2014 projects can begin. Quinsigamond Community College is renovating a building a 20 Franklin Street and moving more than a thousand students downtown. Two hotel deals have been approved, one at the site of the old mall and another at Gateway Park near WPI. There is even talk of a new 350 unit apartment complex being developed downtown. While far from complete, the project is definitely amping up this year!
Aside from CitySquare, Worcester is seeing tons of new business development!
A major source of excitement in the city is the proliferation of new restaurants. Over the past year or so Worcester has seen the following new restaurants (as well as others that I probably haven't noticed):
- 7 Nana
- Crust Artisan Bakeshop
This year promises even more restaurants. So far I know of a burger restaurant opening on Shrewsbury Street in the former Mezcal location and the addition of Wormtown Brewery to Shrewsbury Street.
Blackstone River Bikeway
The city also seems to be getting serious about developing the Blackstone River Bikeway, intended to link Worcester with Providence. A new visitor center has been designed and there is talk of revitalizing the Canal District of the city as well!
Normally I find road projects to be pretty boring, but this one is worth mentioning. If you have ever needed to travel up or down Lincoln Street you know what a mess it is. The city is in the process of rebuilding the entire roadway to reduce traffic, level potholes and create rotaries to allow cars and pedestrians to coexist more easily than they do today.