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Worcester developer recommits to Polar Park plan

Polar Park

A major developer remains committed to a significant investment in the downtown Worcester project featuring Polar Park, the new home of the Worcester Red Sox (Class AAA; International League).

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the timeline for development surrounding the ballpark–planned to generate tax revenues to pay back bonds issued for ballpark construction–has been adjusted, with some projects postponed one or two years, though additional development not in the original timeline will offset some of that delay. (That new development sounds pretty cool: an apartment building anchored by a candlepin bowling alley. A rendering of the ballpark and development is shown below.) With a second revision of the development timeline, there’s concern that city taxpayers will need to cover development tax revenues. But the biggest developer, Madison WG Holdings, reaffirmed its commitment to the project in a letter to Worcester officials. Cited as a major factor: the projects rely on Target Opportunity Zone Funds, and the project heavily relies on tax breaks enabled from opportunity zones to make economic sense. From the Worcester Telegram:

“While the pandemic and other recent announcement relative to the availability of commercial space in Worcester has certainly had an immediate impact on our marketing efforts, none of those circumstances dissuade Madison’s resolve toward achieving the commitment made to the city in Letter of Intent agreement and which will be memorialized in the Land Disposition and Development Agreement,” Dennis Dowdle of Madison WG wrote….

“In closing, Madison reiterates its commitment to both the success of the development project and its continuing and fruitful partnership with the city of Worcester,” Dowdle wrote. “While the repercussions of a global pandemic was not certainly anticipated nor welcome, the reality is that the utilization of Target Opportunity Zone Funds mean that Madison began this process in 2018 with a full expectation that the investment term would exceed 10 years and with the cold realization that there would certainly be economic downturns during that period of time.”

Photo and rendering courtesy Worcester Red Sox.

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Polar Park development

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