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Worcester moving forward on plan for public plaza outside Polar Park

WORCESTER — Seeking to create a public space for community entertainment, the city is looking for a potential operator for the Rockland Trust Plaza, a plaza area that serves as an entryway to Polar Park from Green Street.

The city published a request for interest for potential operators of the plaza, which is an 18,500-square-foot parcel at 45 Green St.

The plaza officially opened in 2022. Initially, the site was going to be known as General Pickett Plaza in honor of Civil War Gen. Josiah Pickett, a Worcester native. After partnering with the bank Rockland Trust, the plaza is now publicly known as Rockland Trust Plaza.    

The property was formerly known as the General Pickett Municipal Parking Lot, a metered parking lot.

At the time of its opening, city officials talked about how the plaza, which features a water fountain designed as a tribute to the Blackstone Canal, benches and a gray-and-white walkway, would serve as a new area on Green Street that would connect the ballpark with downtown and the Canal District.

Then-City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. brought up plans to schedule programming in the plaza such as food trucks, live performances and small events at the new plaza. 

Grass, trees and other plants had also been planted to add more green space.

In 2022, city estimates put the cost of the plaza project at about $3 million, from a mix of a grant from the state MassWorks Infrastructure Program and funding from Rockland Trust.

According to a city statement, the request for interest seeks an operator who can accomplish the city's goals for the plaza including managing a "dynamic, creative public place for leisure activities and family entertainment."

Other goals include serving as a pedestrian gateway to the north entrance of Polar Park; providing amenities such as limited food and beverage opportunities; opportunities for pop-up retail, which could serve as a launchpad for new business startups; and hosting arts, cultural and community events, programs and shows.

The city issued a request for interest, a chance for all interested parties to submit a letter of interest and allow the city to possibly identify a preferred operator.

The city may release a request for proposals following the response to the request for interest, but reserves the right to forgo a request for proposals and directly negotiate based on the letters of interest.

According to the request for interest, the city will provide the following contributions and services to the operation of Rockland Trust Plaza: utility costs, landscaping maintenance, snow removal, fountain operation and maintenance, irrigation system operation and maintenance.

Some of the requirements and limitations placed on the operator include the following:

  • The plaza must be activated or programmed for a minimum of 50 events per calendar year

  • The operator must work with local arts, cultural, organizations and other community stakeholders; at any given time, the plaza may have one food, one alcohol and one dessert/specialty vendor, and more than one vendor in any category must receive written city approval

  • Any changes or additions to the plaza, such as signage, lighting or fixtures, will be subject to design review and approval by the city

  • The operator shall indemnify and hold the city harmless from any liability arising out of operations carried out by the operator, vendors or the operator's agents

The Green Street and Polar Park area has been the site of major construction. More than 1,000 units of housing, 200,000 square feet of office space, 150,000 square feet of retail space and a hotel are planned.


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