Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Please Please Please No Strip Malls

A post over at Wormtown Taxi brought my attention to an article in the Telegram yesterday about the infamous Wyman Gordon property that straddles Madison Street just west of Kelley Square. If you aren't familiar with it do yourself a favor and go take a drive (or a walk) down there and take it all in. The property is large. The figure quoted in the article is 15 acres. That is a lot of space.

In the article what is talked about is that there is some interest in possible retail development of the parcel. Are we talking strip malls here?

The city needs to be very very very careful as to how this proceeds.

People always get all up in arms about these conversations. Who is a city to go and tell people what they can and can't do with their property, blah, blah, blah. This is nothing new, and believe it or not it's not even anything new in Central Mass. Sturbridge for instance has a signage regulation which I believe limits the height and size of your businesses free standing signage.

See Sturbridge has a plan and an idea of what Sturbridge is. It's clearly defined to them. Some things are Sturbridge and some things are not. You are welcome to do business in Sturbridge, but you are going to do it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to Sturbridge. In that way Sturbridge defines it's identity and holds on to it.

Now of course we are talking apples and oranges. Sturbridge is a small town, Worcester a much bigger city. This however is where strong neighborhood organizations and very specific neighborhood definititions come in.

If retail where to go in what kind of retail would compliment and add to the Canal District? What type of buildings? What type of parking? How does a development need to look and feel to exist harmoniously with the rest of the neighborhood?

In my opinion it is better to leave the whole thing barren then to rush into something just to have something there. As is stated in the comment section of the article, this parcel, and how it is developed could be a make or break for urban Worcester. We really do not need a strip mall with a dollar store, a nail salon, a storefront church, and a pizza place. I hope the property owners, business owners, and residents of the Canal District get this and are prepared to tell the city what they would like to see there.

What would I like to see? Well, you know me... always the dreamer.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Lots of activity going on with the two vacants on Portland Street over the weekend. If they give these two buildings the same treatment as they gave the Bancroft itself these will be pretty nice buildings.

I'll tell you what though. If they fill these up and still can't fill the rest of the commercial on Franklin, Portland, and Salem Federal Sq can fall on a knife as far as I am concerned. If by the end of 2009 we have 12 densely populated residential buildings in a small 7 block area and the streets aren't teaming with activity (of the legal and productive variety) Worcester is really going to have to step back and look at ourselves as a city and reevaluate.