New Mixed-Use Complex Coming to Worcester

With the arrival of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A Minor League baseball team, just on the horizon, the central Massachusetts city of Worcester is on the cusp of a major revitalization that’s spurring all kinds of new development activity. An excellent case in point is the redevelopment of a dying shopping mall, Greendale Mall, into a mixed-use complex that will likely include housing and even commercial real estate space. According to the Worcester County Register of Deeds, Finard Properties closed on a $7.1-million deal to acquire the rapidly declining mall – and the developer is eager to get to work on the new development.

New Complex Photo Courtesy of Finard Properties

Located near the intersection of I-290 and I-190 – quite close to downtown Worcester – the Greendale Mall was a popular indoor shopping destination for many years. Originally developed in 1987, the mall once hosted many popular, nationwide retailers. However, it began falling on hard times as various developments – in particular, the onset of internet shopping and the development of newer retail centers like the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley – came about.

In 1999, the mall was purchased by Simon Property Group, which worked to reposition the shopping center as a location for local and value retailers. As the years went by, however, even those value retailers started to struggle to maintain a viable presence at the soon-to-be-defunct shopping mall. Marshalls and Big Lots vacated the property, causing the mall’s popularity to sink even further. Simon Property Group lost the site to foreclosure in 2016. In the fall of 2019, the mall’s largest tenant, Best Buy, left as well. That essentially sounded the death knell for the mall, which joins similar shopping malls across the country in falling out of favor with modern consumers.

Today, only a handful of anchor tenants remain at the mall. These include TJ Maxx/HomeGoods; Designer Shoe Warehouse, or DSW; Greendale Furniture; and Reliant Furniture. After being lost to foreclosure, the mall was purchased by C-III Capital Partners of Irving, Texas, for a reported $11.6 million. With its purchase of the site, Finard plans to develop a 300,000-square-foot mixed-use development that it hopes will become a big part of the continued revitalization of Worcester. Although the developer hasn’t released specific plans regarding the development, it is likely to include residential units, including apartments and condos; retail space – likely on the ground floor; parking spaces; and perhaps even office space.

Construction of the new mixed-use development, which as of yet has not been named, will begin in the midst of the development of the $90-million Polar Park Stadium, which will be the future home of the team that is now being called the Woo Sox. The impending arrival of the Minor League team has created a flurry of excitement across the city, which has seen its fortunes fade along with those of shopping malls like Greendale. The new stadium will be part of a massive mixed-use development, the Canal District, which is slated to include 250 apartments, two hotels and 65,000 square feet of retail space.

There is little doubt that Finard hopes to be on the ground floor of a major upswing for the city along with the developers of CitySquare, an in-the-works mixed-use development that is currently underway at the former site of the Worcester Common Outlets. That $565-million, multiphase project will bring additional housing, retail and more to downtown Worcester, and it is expected to do well with the arrival of the Minor League baseball team on the horizon. As for what will happen with the tenants that currently occupy the Greendale Mall, no official word has been made as of yet.

What does the development of the new mixed-use complex at the site of the Greendale Mall mean for the future of Worcester? If the arrival of the Woo Sox does spur more interest in the city as expected, it will likely will up quickly with retail tenants that will attract even more people to downtown. For the first time since the heyday of the Greendale Mall so many years ago, this part of the city could once again become a big draw not just for visitors but for new businesses and residents too. Stay tuned to Boston City Properties for additional updates about this project.