Developer Madison Properties is expanding the scope of the first phase of planned development surrounding Worcester’s upcoming Polar Park, with a five-story office building now in the mix.
Scheduled for a 2021 opening for the relocating Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), Polar Park is envisioned as the anchor of a larger redevelopment initiative in Worcester’s Kelley Square/Canal District area. As a result of strong interest in the club’s impending arrival and further analysis of the site, Madison Properties has informed city officials of its intent to increase the size and scope of its Phase 1 development adjacent to the ballpark land. Under the original Letter of Intent (LOI) between the city and Madison Downtown Holdings, LLC signed in 2018, the developer agreed to a two phase development project. Phase 1 of the construction would include 225 market rate apartments, a 150-room hotel, a second 110 room boutique hotel in left field and 65,000 SF of retail and restaurant space by early 2021. Phase 2 of the project will include 200,000 SF of residential, office and/or mixed use development.
“Since the announcement of the ballpark there has been strong interest in the surrounding development,” said Denis Dowdle, President of Madison Properties. “In response to that interest, we’ve made changes and expanded the development of Phase 1.”
Under the modification, Madison Properties will construct an additional five-story, 96,000 SF office building in left field. The property will sit above an underground parking garage and include a roof deck and retail space overlooking the playing field. The 110-room boutique hotel will move south of Madison St adjacent to a 140-room extended stay hotel, 225 apartments and 50,000 SF of retail split between the north and south side of Madison.
“The momentum has been building rapidly since the announcement of this redevelopment project 8 months ago; the enthusiasm from residents and the business community is palpable.” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “Mr. Dowdle and his team at Madison Properties were instrumental in getting the deal over the finish line. With a proven track record of success both here in Worcester and in other cities, we are thrilled to see the evolution of this project take shape and look forward to seeing the transformation of an already vibrant and thriving neighborhood.”
“We’re excited to see the expansion of development planning in Phase One,” said PawSox Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development and Business Affairs Dan Rea. “The unique and stately office building overlooking Polar Park’s left field will be a space unlike any other in baseball, and will provide a signature component of our project that aligns beautifully with our shared vision that this effort is about much more than a ballpark.’”
Officials have been planning to begin construction on Polar Park this summer, with the facility opening in time for the 2021 season. The PawSox will spend the current 2019 season and the 2020 campaign at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium while awaiting the new ballpark’s completion.
Polar Park is expected to cost $86-$90 million, and is envisioned as the anchor of a larger redevelopment initiative. The funding formula for the ballpark calls for the City of Worcester to borrow $100.8 million ($70.6 million in general obligations bonds, $30.2 in bonds backed by team rent payments) to cover construction costs and PawSox owners paying $6 million toward construction. Rent payments are pegged at a little over a million dollars annually, for a total of $30.2 million over 30 years. Naming rights for the ballpark will come from Worcester’s Polar Beverages.
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