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Panel backs changing CitySquare fee schedule.

Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER -- The City Council Economic Development Committee has unanimously endorsed an amendment that would give the developer of the CitySquare project an extra year to pay for permit fees and would change one of the payment triggers.

The amendment is intended to reflect modifications made to the overall redevelopment plan, according to Heather Gould, chief of staff for the city's Economic Development Office.

The amendment would extend the expiration date of the CitySquare Project Permit Fees ordinance by one year, from June 30, 2018, to June 30, 2019.

The amendment would also change one of the benchmarks used in the fee-payment timeline.

She said a change is being sought to the development agreement, which allows the developer to make a series of scheduled payments for all the permits required for the project, rather than paying for each permit at the time it is requested.

Currently, $1 million of the projected $2 million in permit fees projected for the CitySquare project have already been paid to the city.

Of the balance, the development agreement calls for that to be paid in three equal installments ($333,334) -- when construction of the residential component begins, when construction of the hotel begins and upon substantial completion of the underground parking garage, Ms. Gould said.

She said that under the amendment that the Economic Development Committee endorsed, instead of the payment being due upon the substantial completion of the underground garage, it would be changed to substantial completion of a 200,000-square-foot office building that is programmed on what is known as "Parcel F.''

Ms. Gould told the committee Tuesday night that much progress has been made regarding other aspects of the CitySquare project.

She said the 550-space public underground garage that is now under construction is expected to be completed this fall and open for business in early November.

The cost of the garage is just under $35 million, she said, compared with the original estimate of about $28 million.

Ms. Gould said the increase in the cost of the garage is attributed in part to the variability in the pricing of commodities needed for construction, namely steel.

She added that the design of the garage was also changed so it fits better with the hotel, which will be built above it.

Ms. Gould said the developer of CitySquare's residential component -- Roseland Property Co. -- has already applied for building permits to construct 370 units of market-rate housing on nearly four acres, bounded by Front, Foster, Franklin and Trumbull streets.

The plans call for construction of two separate five-story buildings -- one 263,497 square feet with 239 apartments, and the other 142,130 square feet with 131 apartments.

Between the two apartment buildings will be a five-level, 479-space parking garage for the tenants.

Also, the larger of the two residential buildings -- the one bounded by Front and Foster streets -- will include roughly 12,000 square feet of street-level retail space.

The smaller residential building will not have a retail component.

Ms. Gould said the developer is prepared to "hit the ground running'' and begin construction next month on the residential component. The anticipated completion of that phase of CitySquare is the spring of 2017.

Meanwhile, she said, construction of the proposed full-service, 150-room hotel cannot begin until after the underground garage is completed.

The hotel developer has yet to seek any approvals from any city boards or commissions, but Ms. Gould added that it will seek them very soon.

She said construction of the hotel would begin in January 2016, with completion also targeted for the spring of 2017.
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Kotsopoulos, Nick
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 2, 2015
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