Thursday, August 14, 2008

Worcester Block by Block #2.1: Franklin, Salem, Myrtle, Portland

Although the main property in Bancroft Commons, the downtown development by the Mayo Group, is the old Bancroft Hotel at 50 Franklin Street, most of the land and buildings in the development exist on this block which neighbors the Bancroft.

The block consists of 4 residential buildings with street level commercial store fronts, 1 office building with street level commercial store fronts, an old theater, an enormous old indoor auto sales and service complex, and a large industrial building.

We'll start at the corner of Franklin Street portion and work our way around.

60 Franklin St: The Hooka Hot Spot

The Hooka Hot Spot is the first new business to open in the Bancroft Commons development and features hooka smoking as well as coffee, tea and smoothies. Aside from chips and salsa or hummus there really isn't any food at the moment. The Hooka Hot Spot is currently in soft opening phase and will have their grand opening in September at which time I hope to have a more detailed entry just devoted to them. Personally I am a big fan of the Hooka smoking and find it to be one of the more relaxing and conversation friendly activities you can participate in. If you have never done it right now is an excellent time to try it as the Hot Spot is offering a free Hooka to first time visitors for the entire month of August. I say try it out, what do you have to lose? They are open Sunday through Wednesday 5pm to Midnight and Thursday through Saturday 5pm to 2am. For more info, including an interesting page about the Hooka and it's history, check out the website.

62 Franklin Street: Offices

This building appears to be 3 floors of as yet to be renovated office space above the Hooka Hot Spot and Sylvia Dress Shop. I am not sure what Mayo plans to do with this address but as of right now it sits vacant. As with the rest of the development, it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

64 Franklin Street: Sylvia Dress Shop
Sylvia Dress Shop recently moved from their digs on Main Street over here to their completely refurbished store at 64 Franklin. I don't know much about dresses but what Sylvia seems to specialize in is fancy dress. Think gowns of the wedding, prom, and evening variety. For my thoughts on the old Sylvia location and the building it resided in see the future Block by Block entry on the Main, Franklin, Portland, Federal block.

66 Franklin Street: Mass Pro Hair Braiding
In one of the two little store fronts that straddle the entrance to the Paris. Awful signage and a business that I am not sure fits the demographic of the neighborhood. Although there seems to be an interesting one stop shopping thing that is developing here on Franklin I am not so sure if it's the kind of thing that goes with Mayo's vision of the neighborhood.

68 Franklin Street: Paris Cinema

Here it is folks, the granddaddy of the downtown eye sore. For those unfamiliar the Paris for years was a porn theater and store which was the sight of all sorts of arrests, prostitution and socially unacceptable behavior. Today it sits closed and vacant as a constant reminder to the citizens of Worcester of what their beloved downtown tragically turned into over the last 4o years of the 1900's. When I first became a resident of this neighborhood last October I applauded Mayo's intent to demolish the building. For the most part I still do but what I think would be great and one of the most psychologically satisfying things that could happen for Worcester as a whole would be the remodeling of this space into a replacement for the closed and shuttered Bijou Cinema which was forced out for the building of the City Square project in late 2004. From the small entrance way it's hard to tell but if you look at the back of the building (you can see it a little bit in the picture) it's a large old theater similar to the Hanover and The Palladium. It would do so much for the attitude of the city to see the Paris returned to the former glory of the Capitol Theater while at the same time filling the need of an Art House theater in Worcester that was left wide open with the closing of the Bijou. This may be a bit of dreaming on my part though. Read the comments at the bottom of the link I provided, they get pretty interesting.

70 Franklin St: Vacant store front

72 Franklin St: A's Barber Shop

74 Franklin St: Sonja's Wigs

76 Franklin St: Worcester Commons

76 Franklin is one of the three current residential addresses of the Bancroft Commons development. I've never been inside so I cannot attest to the apartments or what they look like.

78 Franklin Street: Vacant Store Front
Wow would a pizza place or some sort of takeout be awesome right here. I will more into this in later Block by Block entries but there is a real good business opportunity here for someone if they are willing to jump on it.

82 Franklin Street: More Apartments

Very cool old building at the corner of Franklin and Salem. What is something to take notice of next time you go buy is how the streets are names right on the corner of the building and the building was built at a time when Franklin St wasn't called Franklin St but was called Park St instead.

84 Franklin Street: 83oAM WCRN True Talk Radio
One of the more interesting new tenants in the Bancroft Commons development is local talk radio station WCRN. With their big, open, on air studio (bottom right of the above picture) facing the common they definitely add a nice feel to downtown. I am still tempted to go and hold up signs when Peter Blute says something I don't agree with. No real web presence yet though, which is odd for a station who is definitely trying to be a big time radio station. Get on the ball folks!!!!


Tina Z said...

I saw Casablanca at the Paris with my mom in the very early 80's. It was a beautiful old theater.

jacob said...

i've always thought the paris looked awesome. never went inside, though i hope to someday. and that hair braiding shop has been there FOREVER, it sure seems like it's serving some aspect of the community. and right next to sylvia's wig shop (which rules) used to be the firecracker anarchist bookstore. seriously, right there! that's kind of nuts, right?

pete said...

Back in the late '70s, early '80s I saw Eraserhead,concert movies, I think even Murder on the Orient Express. Funny thing, it was always packed.

Chris said...

Hey Gabe, try using the Assessors Office for data.
And. Why are you doing this?

Gabe said...

Because no one else is sir.

Not even the city.

I am trying to make our insider city not so much of an insider city.

Gabe said...

Oh, and what kind of data would the Assessor's Office offer me?

I think in this the only thing I can think of is what a building is zoned for, but I am interested in what type of data you were thinking of.

Bill Randell said...


Don't listen to Chris, the Wills or the anonymous commentors (most likely the same person) who are too afraid to even identify themselves.

This is great stuff.


4rilla said...

Loving the block by block series.

Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

The Paris was one of the first atmospheric theaters in the US. The interior was designed with plaster work and ornamental iron to look like an amphitheater in spain. Moving clouds and stars were projected on the ceiling during pictures. The capacity is around 2500.
For the record too, up until the 1940s there were dozens of flophouses in the downtown the one at the Paris wasnt really anything new, it was just more accepted in Worcesters heyday.

Gabe said...

Flophouses or Porn Theater? I don't quite understand what you mean about the flop houses.