WORCESTER – A $15 million grant has been awarded to a local economic development agency to tear down a former state hospital building and prepare the land for possible manufacturing use.
The Worcester Business Development Corp. said Wednesday it received the funding from the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, a quasi-public state agency, and has hired a contractor to begin environmental work and demolition as soon as this month.
The work will take down a 380,000-square-foot structure known as the Bryan Building, which was once part of Worcester State Hospital off Belmont Street. The building sits on a 44-acre site that the WBDC is clearing and marketing as a site for biomanufacturing.
“We’ve had a couple of interested parties come forward, but the hope is with this demolition, this building, this will help us create another pad-ready site up there,” said Julie Holstrom, WBDC senior project manager.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito is scheduled to visit the site Thursday for a WBDC event concerning the grant.
The grant is the latest element in the WBDC’s effort to reuse land that was once part of a sprawling, 300-acre treatment center for people with mental illnesses. Multiple buildings were constructed on the site beginning in 1874.
The Bryan Building was built in 1955 as an eight-story structure that connected to the main hospital building along an elevated walkway, according to Massachusetts Historical Commission records.
Over recent decades, portions of the property have been redeveloped into life sciences research buildings, a hotel and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital. The WBDC acquired its 44 acres from the state in 2017 and has been tearing down smaller structures while also seeking companies that might build production centers there.
LakePharma Inc. of Belmont, California, expressed interest in 2016 but ultimately chose to create a contract production center in Hopkinton.
Earlier this year, Chinese company WuXi Biologics signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Worcester, the WBDC and the state’s life sciences agency to pursue construction of a biologics manufacturing facility on part of the property. WuXi reported it could invest $60 million in its proposed facility and hire about 150 workers.
The redevelopment of the former state hospital is taking place as developers are finding scant space for modern industrial development in Worcester.
“With the development of the new Biomanufacturing Park, Worcester is poised to quickly respond to the biomanufacturing industry’s growing interest for pad-ready sites, bringing new employment opportunities and generating tax revenue for the city and the commonwealth,” WBDC President and Chief Executive Craig Blais said in a statement.