The plot thickens at The Bridge

With new information comes a little hope for once?

This is a quick one. I need to get it out before work and there’s no point in talking about anything else because The Bridge is having a huge fundraiser and block party today and everyone reading this newsletter should go and help support what seems like the only cause worth supporting in this city nowadays and also the Leningrad of the fight against gentrification in this city and the new information I’m about to divulge gives us a glimmer of hope that we might be able to break this proverbial siege.

So go down to 300 Southbridge Street and have fun while I’m at my dumb idiot job thinking about how to most easily stuff myself in the oven. It started at 1 p.m. and it’ll be going all night and there’s food and music and dancing and it’s beautiful out so go!!

And for those who don’t know, the Bridge is the building behind Miss Worcester Diner at the corner of Southbridge Street and Quinsigamond Avenue. It is home to a host of grassroots community organizations and the dream of organizers is to build it out as a youth center for kids in the neighborhood. This dream, which people have been working to realize for years, is directly threatened by an interest in the area from real estate speculators brought on by the construction of Polar Park. For more background, read my first post or this good story by Tom Matthews in MassLive if you can figure out a way to get around the paywall, something you definitely shouldn’t privately message or email me for advice on because I don’t have any advice for you :-)

But I’m not here to write about the happy fun times and the friends we made along the way. 

There have been some significant new pieces of information that have come to light since I first wrote you about this building which deserve some serious attention and make the situation at once more complicated and possibly less of a moon shot than we first thought it was. 

This, from The Bridge organizers:

This week, there have been three important developments:

  1.  #SaveTheBridge has learned that the building is already under contract to a buyer.

  1. #SaveTheBridge has learned that this buyer did not perform a building inspection before making their offer—which means they likely intend to tear the building down.

  1. #SaveTheBridge has spoken with enough developers—developers who both have the capacity to buy the building and are supportive of #SaveTheBridge’s vision—to be confident of the path forward to buying and renovating the building, provided community members and city officials can band together to stop the purchase of the building by a buyer who, apparently, wants to tear it down.

So we have here a private buyer who intends to demolish the building, and that the offer we thought they made is in fact much more than an offer. It came with a contract, or a letter intent, or a commitment of some kind from the family trust that manages the building and this new buyer. I’m no real estate expert but there are various levels of commitments and until the money actually exchanges hands and the deed is handed over there’s still hope. 

There is also still hope in the mechanisms of City Hall. The building is zoned for manufacturing, so anything short of purchasing the building to make it a factory is something that would require a zoning change or exception from the Zoning Board of Appeals, which is appointed by the City Manager. Bridge organizers seem to believe that this new buyer intends to demolish the building to make a parking lot. This plan could be thwarted at the Zoning Board of Appeals. Appeal denied, bitch. And that’s what the Bridge organizers are trying to make happen. 

“We’re calling on the City Manager to commit to not rezoning this parcel for any plan that excludes this community,” said Powers, “There's a way to resolve this that will work for everyone, and this commitment from the city would get us there.”

The third development I know more about than I’m allowed to say. But there is a private developer who is committed and will put up the money to make The Bridge happen. It’s a big company with deep ties to Worcester and a million bucks is not a whole lot of money for them. That means the dream of The Bridge is right there. They’ve got the right people on board. All they need to do is stop the sale of this building to some other company which, between you and me, is not even close to a Worcester company and probably has no idea what’s going on over at 300 Southbridge Street. They need City Hall’s help with this. 

“Worcester is at a crossroads,” said Powers, “Will city officials build Polar Park into another soon-to-be-empty ruin, or will they focus on what makes Worcester special and unique, and work with us to make this neighborhood beautiful and vibrant? That’s what this is about, and that’s why we expect the city will step up and commit to not rezoning the building.”

With this situation, City Manager Ed Augustus is given the perfect political opportunity to show everyone in this city who is rightly concerned with the gentrifying effect of Polar Park that he gives a single shit.

Will he take it? We’ll have to wait and see.

~/~

Don’t forget! The Bridge is still raising money and if you can’t make it down there today you can give a few bucks on their online fundraising page

As with my first post on the matter I highly suggest you give to the Bridge before thinking about signing up to give me a few bucks a month for my newsletter, but if you want to do both you sure can! We are very much fighting the same fight just in very different ways. I yell and scream online and they actually do something. 

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Look at my new logo!!! It rules!! Johnny Garlin, a very talented Worcester-based tattoo artist, did it. You can find him on @garlin_in_da_club_ on Instagram. Homeboy is doing big things so pay attention. 

I will be making shirts and stickers of this in the near future by the way so stay tuned for that. 

Ok I have to go to my stupid job now. I’ve got a lot of more substantial stories in the works but four or five days a week at the restaurant is four or five days out of seven in which it is very difficult to get a post out (yes this is another shameless plug to subscribe to my newsletter haha thank you if you do)