$26M rehab in the works on Main Street; Retail-residential mix sought for the Central Building.

AuthorKotsopoulos, Nick

Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER -- The Central Building, a vacant downtown landmark that dodged a date with the wrecking ball last year, is on track to be brought back to life through a $26 million mixed-use redevelopment.

The Historical Commission was informed Thursday night that 332 Main Street Associates, a group controlled by the Krock family, which owns the eight-story former office building on Main Street, wants to completely rehabilitate the property.

Taya Dixon, a senior consultant with Epsilon Associates Inc., said preliminary plans call for a mixed-used development, with storefronts on the street level and housing throughout the rest of the building.

She said the owner is tentatively looking at converting the former office space in the building, which was constructed in 1925, into 59 units of housing.

Ms. Dixon said the project will involve a very complex combination of funding sources, including state and federal historic preservation tax credits.

The owner sought a letter of support from the Historical Commission so it could be presented to potential funding sources.

Commission member Timothy McCann called the news of the redevelopment plans for the Central Building a "success story.''

He said it demonstrates the importance of the city's demolition delay ordinance.

"There is no doubt this will help with the economic vitality of the downtown while also helping with historic preservation,'' Mr. McCann said.

In November 2012, the owner of the Central Building petitioned the Historical Commission for a waiver to the demolition-delay ordinance, which puts a one-year hold on the razing of historic properties to give owners time to find a buyer who would be able to preserve the building or come up with a reuse for it.

The waiver was sought so demolition could be done sooner because the owner claimed it was an economic hardship to maintain the vacant building, which was not generating any rental income. The building has been vacant a few years.

But the Historical Commission denied the waiver request in March 2013, saying an adequate case of economic hardship was not...

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