Downtown Worcester to Receive Recovery
Planning Assistance
For Immediate Release: March 10, 2021
Media Contact:
Evelyn Darling, Executive Director                                     
508-622-3050 x1,

Worcester, MassachusettsThe City of Worcester will receive technical assistance from the global design firm Stantec valued at $120,000 through the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative’s (MDI) Local Rapid Recovery Planning (LRRP) program to explore solutions and projects to help revitalize business in Downtown Worcester and plan for economic recovery. The Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District (BID) applied for the technical assistance grant on behalf of the City of Worcester and will oversee the planning efforts. The Local Rapid Recovery Planning program is designed to help mitigate the devastating effects of the pandemic on the local business community. The planning process will take place over an approximate five-month period beginning this month.
"We recognize that the impacts of the COVID-19 health emergency have dramatically affected local businesses," Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox said. "Your efforts to explore solutions and projects to help revitalize businesses in your community are an effective way to plan for economic recovery. Congratulations and thank you for this effort."
Downtown Worcester has experienced significant economic impacts as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Large cultural venues, including The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, the DCU Center, and Mechanics Hall among others, have been shuttered since last March, leaving a tremendous void with the absence of their more than one million collective annual visitors. Downtown restaurants and retailers have seen dramatic reductions in their consumer base with many downtown office workers working remotely. Some Worcester businesses have been forced to close temporarily while others were not able to survive, contributing the growing number of vacant storefronts within the Downtown.
The LRRP grant will assist the City of Worcester and the BID in developing plans that will be tailored to the unique economic challenges of Downtown Worcester and will be highly action-oriented to provide immediate strategies for short-term recovery. The plans also will address medium- and long-term recovery strategies, but those will not be the focus of the planning efforts.
“This grant will prove beneficial to the City of Worcester as we continue our recovery efforts from this unprecedented pandemic,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. said. “The economic impact on the City has been immense, with many local businesses and cultural venues hit particularly hard. It is imperative that we help revitalize these businesses and organizations on the road to recovery, and we will do it together through efforts such as this.”
“This pandemic has taught us the importance of communities working together to assist each other through difficult times,” said Evelyn Darling, Executive Director of the BID. “The BID is looking forward to partnering with the City and our community stakeholders to take on this exciting and crucial planning project to bring recovery to Downtown Worcester.”
A Boston-based team from Stantec will partner with the BID and the City of Worcester on this project. Stantec is global design firm with over 350 locations across 6 continents that designs with community in mind. Stantec’s Urban Places team is an interdisciplinary hub bringing together leaders in planning and urban design, mobility, resilience and sustainability, mixed-use development, real estate advisory, and smart cities. They work in cities and suburbs across North America to unlock new economic, social, and environmental value through enhanced livability, equity, and resilience.
Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District is a nonprofit organization established in 2018 to sustain momentum in the heart of Downtown Worcester. The result of a comprehensive community-based effort, the organization represents the owners of 140 properties and seeks to create a unique sense of place through enhanced investment and development, establishing and sustaining a vibrant, welcoming, and economically viable district for all.