WORCESTER — The plan to turn the former Telegram & Gazette building into a downtown center for college classrooms, a theater and a cafe today added furnished office space to the mix.
And the byzantine $37 million financing deal for the project patched together with a coalition of community banks, quasi-public agencies and a local development group now includes a $1 million grant from a federal development agency to pay for the fit out of the office space.
Worcester Business Development Corp. President Craig L. Blais described the new office space aspect of the project as a business incubator where small and start-up companies can take root and begin to grow for a year or two before moving on to a permanent location elsewhere in the city.
U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, left, with Matt S. Erskine, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, discussed a $1 milion grant for former T&G building. (T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON)
Ten24 Digital Solutions, a small technology company currently based in Northboro, will be the incubator’s first tenant, Mr. Blais said.
The incubator will occupy about 11,000 square feet on the redeveloped building’s first and fourth floors.
The $1 million federal grant was announced this morning by Matt S. Erskine, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which has funded similar incubators throughout the country.
Mr. Erskine said such projects allow entrepreneurs to focus on innovation and ideas, not the prosaic details of buying desks and negotiating leases and other details.
“Entrepreneurs are strapped for money. They’ve got an idea,” Mr. Erskine said. “Now they can come to central location with that innovation. Then it’s going to ripple out through this community.”
Mr. Blais declined to specify how much tenants will be charged to lease space in the building, at 20 Franklin St., but he said the idea is to keep the lease rates affordable for fledgling companies with little revenue.
Work on the building should be substantially complete by July. Qunisigamond Community College plans to begin offering classes there in fall, Mr. Blais said.
Plans also call for a ground-floor cafe and store and a 300-seat theater.