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Worcester ready to buy St. Vincent Hospital land next to senior center

By Nick Kotsopoulos, Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass. on

Published in Senior Living Features

WORCESTER -- City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. is seeking authorization for the city to purchase St. Vincnet Hospital property next to the Worcester Senior Center, including the parking lot for the center and the adjacent Anderson Building on Winthrop Street.

Mr. Augustus recommends the city spend $385,000 for the acquisition.

The money would come from budget savings realized because of a surplus in the Health Claims Trust Fund. The share of the savings available for the city side of Worcester government, as opposed to the schools, is $2.1 million.

The manager wants to spend another $215,000 of the savings on improvements to the senior center parking lot, including lighting and cameras.

The City Council will take up the city manager's recommendations Tuesday night.

The city currently leases the property at 1 Spurr St., which serves as the parking lot for the senior center, from St. Vincent Hospital.

Mr. Augustus said acquiring the property will help secure long-term parking for the senior center.

Meanwhile, acquisition of the parcel at 12 Winthrop St., known as the Anderson building, will create a development opportunity for the area, he said.

The vacant, four-story Anderson Building was part of a nurses' residence when St. Vincent Hospital was located on Vernon Hill.

The senior center occupies parts of the former nurses' residence building that were built in 1956 and 1967. But renovation of the section of the building that was constructed in 1926 never happened, because of the cost.

The Elder Affairs Commission has voted to release from its care and custody the unused, 1926 portion of the building. Mr. Augustus is recommending that portion of the building be placed under his jurisdiction.

When that is done, he said, the city Office of Economic Development can seek bids from developers to purchase and redevelop the property and 12 Winthrop St.

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"Proposers will be expected to demonstrate a redevelopment plan that complements and supports the Worcester Senior Center and preserves the former St. Vincent Hospital Nurses Home Building," Mr. Augustus said.

St. Vincent Hospital donated the building for the senior center in the late 1990s as part of a $40.5 million tax-increment financing deal that paved the way for the construction of a new hospital downtown.

As part of the deed for the property, however, the use is restricted to senior center purposes. The Anderson Building still belongs to St. Vincent Hospital because the city never made it part of the senior center.

The city's acquisition of that building would remove the use restriction for it and open it to development.

In 2016, St. Hospital and the Worcester Redevelopment Authority reached a purchase-and-sale agreement to facilitate a land swap involving the properties at 1 Spurr St. and 12 Winthrop St.

In exchange for those parcels, the WRA was going to transfer to St. land it owns in the Washington Square area so the hospital could increase its campus footprint in that area.

But the deal never reached fruition and things remained in limbo until now.

(c)2018 Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass.

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(c) Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass.

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