With more retail and residential development by the month, Worcester’s Canal District is booming. The latest addition to the district, the Worcester Red Sox’s Polar Park, is about to break ground.
But the Canal District is also trying not to become a victim of its own success.
“With the success of the neighborhood, parking’s become more and more of the problem,” Developer Edward Murphy said.
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In fact, in her monthly Worcester Business Journal column “The Struggle Is Real,” The Queen’s Cups bakery owner Renee Diaz wrote that the “construction, WooSox and regulation are killing Canal District dreams.” She says it makes her wonder if hers and other small businesses “will survive the next five years.”
“We all welcome the ballpark,” developer Allen Fletcher said. “We all are convinced that in two years the state of affairs around here is going to be terrific. What we’re worried about now is how to get from now to then.”
Fletcher and fellow developer Edward Murphy have teamed up with Crompton Place owner Dino Lorusso to try to tackle that problem head on.
“We originally had parking for 200 vehicles over at Ash Street, but that’s exactly where the ballpark’s going to be built,” Lorusso said.
So they had the idea for a shuttle service, got it sponsored by Cornerstone Bank and purchased four lots on the south side of Kelley Square that they’re already transforming into parking lots for about 250 cars.
“It’s expensive, but with the three of us it’s not too bad,” Murphy said.
They hope the shuttle will eventually run daily, morning to night, with hours expanding as more businesses join in.
“If we can get the neighborhood to chip in monthly, we’ll run it more hours and everyone can enjoy it,” Lorusso said.
Polar Park is scheduled to break ground later this month, while the free shuttle service is scheduled to begin Aug. 1.