Mall demolition: a brief history

This piece in Worcester Business Journal is the most optimistic (yet realistic) thing I’ve read about tomorrow’s mall demolition.

After the initial developer, Berkeley Investments of Boston failed to get the needed financing to move the project forward, it seemed likely that the slickly produced CitySquare marketing material would become collectors’ items much like the ill-fated “Worcester: The Paris of the Eighties” T-shirts you can buy online.

In fact, when rumors started to swirl that Hanover was going to play the white knight to the delayed project, we at the Worcester Business Journal were among those who doubted such a deal could really come to fruition.

But it is really happening.

In honor of tomorrow’s ceremonies (which I won’t be able to attend), I’ve put together an extremely abbreviated list of T&G articles about CitySquare.  (Click here first to log in.)  I’ve indicated timeless quotes in blue, and — for those of you who have been promised so much over the past six years — estimated demolition times in red.

Dec 9, 2003 – “The financially ailing Worcester Common Outlets mall might be sold by spring, and some potential buyers are studying the feasibility of demolishing the entire retail complex.”

Feb 7, 2004 -Berkeley Investments buys the mall and “plans to demolish almost the entire retail component.” In what is possibly the most optimistic quote in that article, Rick Rushton says, “The face of downtown just went from looking like Olive Oyl to Mona Lisa.”

Feb 29, 2004 – Editorial writers refer to the start of this project as “auspicious.” On the same day, RZN asks if the city can survive all this progress.  Haven’t we always?

June 23, 2004 – Editorial writers say “the community would do well to heed Mr. Park’s words and prepare for the inevitable bumps in the road as the journey gets under way.”  Truer words were never spoken!

July 24, 2004 – “Berkeley is expected to begin mall demolition next spring.”

Nov 28, 2004 – Is this quote from a Dianne Williamson column of six years ago, or last week? “Tearing down the mall is the right thing to do,” maintained Michael J. Donoghue, who was taking a walk there on his lunch hour. “Maybe this should have been done five years ago, but better late than never.”

Jan 14, 2005 – project is christened CitySquare.

Feb 3, 2005 – “Berkeley Investments expects to build the project, which includes razing part of the shopping mall and extending Front Street through to Washington Square, in three phases over five to seven years.”

Feb 8, 2005 – City Manager Mike O’Brien “believes major demolition will begin in August.”

Apr 24, 2005 – Proving that Nick K. can just write the same five columns over and over with no regard for the year — “Few, if any, tears will be shed when the mall comes down.”

Aug 31, 2005 – “It won’t be long before Berkeley Investments Inc. begins tearing down the Worcester Common Outlets.”

Apr 6, 2006 – For at least 10 months, the city and Berkeley had been involved in negotiations that finally resulted in an agreement; Paul Clancy says, “There is no question there will be an appearance of a wrecking ball at the mall. This is another sign of a city on the move.”

Aug 23, 2007 – “But the wrecker’s ball has been nowhere in sight, and it is not known when it might show up.  As a result, Berkeley had to go back before the Planning Board last night, seeking another one-year extension.”

Dec 12, 2007 – We are focusing on the demolition,” Mr. O’Brien said. “A six-month timeframe for demolition would be an ambitious one, but it can certainly take place.”