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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Gardner-Kilby-Hammond (GKH) Revitalization Project - Worcester, MA
(April 2006)

Programs: EPA Assessment Grant and EPA Cleanup Grant
Grantee: City of Worcester (contacts) & Main South Community Development Corporation (contacts)
Summary:  Vacant lots, substandard residential properties and industrial buildings were converted into affordable housing, a Boys & Girls Club and an outdoor athletic complex.

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In one of Worcester's poorest and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, a community-governed and non-profit organization, Main South Community Development Corporation, is completing a project that addresses environmental clean-up and the re-use of contaminated inner-city property. The $32.5 million dollar revitalization was a collaboration lead by Main South CDC, with significant partnerships from the City of Worcester, the Boys & Girls Club, and Clark University. The project aims to transform a 30 acre site into affordable housing, an outdoor recreational space, and a new Boys & Girls Club.

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In a city disproportionately affected by blight, crime and poverty, this project symbolizes a progressive movement towards better living. With a population density of 12,500 people living within one square mile of the Main St. Neighborhood, almost 3 times more than the city's average, affordable housing is not just a desire, but a necessity. The area is home to a variety of ethnic cultures including 44.2% Hispanic, 30.4% Caucasian, 10.7% Asian and 10.4% African American. However, as of the year 2000, 35% of these residents live at or below the poverty line, and in addition, 11% of these residents don't consider themselves proficient in English.

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On June 20th 2003, EPA awarded the City of Worcester a $200,000 clean-up grant for the Neighborhood Revitalization Project. Not only was this one of the first 10 clean-up grants issued in the region, but it was also the first time non-profits have been able to apply directly for funding. Because the site was formerly a metal fabrication and auto dealer and repair shop, $149,700 was designated for petroleum contamination, while the other $50,300 was used for hazardous substances. Prior to this, Worcester received $161,500 in EPA Brownfields funds for assessments in this same area, totaling $1.33 million to the city from the Environmental Protection Agency since 1995. Other significant financial contributions were made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, MassDevelopment, Clark University, The Boys and Girls Club, and the primary investor, Main South CDC. Remaining funds to cover the cost of the project will be provided by the purchase of the housing units from homebuyers.

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This two part project is an achievable, sustainable and responsible approach to addressing inner-city property revitalization. The first part of the project is the conversion of vacant lots and substandard residential properties into 80 affordable housing units for 1st time home buyers. The units, developed under the “green” housing program, are Energy Star rated and include environmentally friendly materials. The second half of the project aims to convert 7.8 acres of underutilized industrial buildings, contaminated with metals, paints, solvents and petroleum, into a new Boys and Girls Club and an outdoor athletic complex. As a result of DEP's “Beneficial Use Determination”, which allowed building debris to be used as fill, most of the building materials were recycled as fill or salvage after demolition. The track and athletic field will be made available to the Boys and Girls Club, as well as surrounding residents. This project is a win-win for stakeholders and residents, as it fits perfectly into the city's “Comprehensive Development Plan” and creates hope in a city severely affected by crime and poverty.

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  • 1999:  Worcester receives $161,500 in EPA Brownfields assessment funds

  • Nov 2002:  HUD awards $1,000,000 Brownfield Economic Development Initiative grant

  • June 2003:  EPA awards $200,000 clean-up grant

  • March 2004:  Site preparation begins (asbestos removal, building demolition, environmental remediation, and grading)

  • May 2004:  8 housing units were completed and turned over to 1st time homebuyers

  • June 2005:  Groundbreaking Ceremony with guest speaker, Congressman Jim McGovern


  • EPA
    • $161,000 Assessment funds
    • $200,000 Clean-up grant
  • HUD
    • $1,000,000 Brownfield Economic Development grant
    • $1,000,000 Neighborhood Improvement Program grant
  • MassDevelopment
    • $40,000 Predevelopment loan funds
  • Clark University
    • $2,500,000 Endowment
  • Federal Appropriations and Philanthropic Contributions
    • $3,300,000
  • Boys and Girls Club
    • $7,500,000 for clubhouse construction costs
  • Main South CDC
    • $14,000,000 for housing development
    • $6,500,000 for predevelopment work

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