May 9, 2018

City to ask Hanover to delay Notre Dame demolition after petition supported

Photo | Grant Welker
The Notre Dame des Canadiens church.

The City of Worcester will once again ask the Hanover Insurance Group, principal investors in the City Square II development project, to delay the demolition of the Notre Dame des Canadiens Church.

City Council members Tuesday night voted unanimously to support a citizen petition for the city to ask Hanover to delay the demolition for three months. The motion, which is nonbinding, followed several residents and activists hoping to see the 89-year-old structure preserved for a future use.

The activist group, Save Notre Dame Alliance, put forth the request as new information and ideas have recently come to light, including the proposal to build a commercial building on the same land to increase the property's value and help fund a potential rehabilitation of the building.

The alliance, citing a recent meeting with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Worcester), city officials and Hanover's development team, said a subsidy of about $6 million would be needed to make a redevelopment project financially viable.

"The demolition delay is necessary because new ideas and new information point to new solutions," said Ted Conna of the alliance.

Public and philanthropic funding, he said, has not been adequately explored.

"It'll take more than a few weeks to explore and execute," he said, adding McGovern's office is looking for funding sources.

According to members of the alliance and city officials, Hanover has rejected repurposing proposals and similar requests to delay the demolition, and has already begun abatement of hazardous materials in preparing to demolish the structure.

Councillor Candy Mero-Carlson, who first rose in support of the petition, called the move the city's best last effort to save the building.

"If there's someone out there to help us, we need to try," she said.

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