Quinsigamond Community College will lease the former Telegram & Gazette building on Franklin and Federal streets as it begins to expand downtown.
The Quinsigamond Community College board of trustees Wednesday night approved a lease agreement with New Garden Park, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Worcester Business Development Corp.
The 10-year lease is likely to be executed in the coming days by the state Division of Capital Asset Management. In a prepared statement, Carole Cornelison, DCAM commissioner, said the state agency was excited to announce the agreement. The agency ran the college’s search for new space. It sought bids last spring and received 13 responses from 11 Worcester-area entities, including the WBDC.
The lease calls for the community college to pay about $1.6 million annually for the first five years, and about $1.7 million annually over the last five years. The college will occupy about 72,400 square feet in the old T&G building, which is actually a complex of buildings that were stitched together over the years. The lease includes 85 parking spaces at no cost to the college. Additional parking spots may be purchased, according to a summary of the lease.
Gail Carberry, president of QCC, said she was excited to be able to expand offerings by the college, which has little room to grow in its current West Boylston Street location. The new facility will support more than 2,000 students and administrators, according to the college.
Ms. Carberry said the focus of the new facility will be an expanded menu of health sciences-related programs, including radiation therapy and oncology-related support programs.
The college also plans to move its adult basic education program downtown; Ms. Carberry said the access to nearby public transportation hubs and proximity to the Main South neighborhood made it a good fit.
English as a second language and workforce development and training programs will also go downtown.
Stephen Marini, vice president of administrative services for the college, said New Garden Park will cover the cost of the renovation, which is expected to be at least $15 million. The goal for occupancy is December, Mr. Marini said.
Mr. Marini said he envisioned a “soft opening” in January 2014, and said classes could certainly be held over the summer. He said the full opening of the facility will be in time for the fall 2014 semester.
The WBDC bought the building in 2011 for $300,000; the newspaper moved across the Common over the summer to the former Mechanics Bank tower.
Craig Blais, president of the WBDC, said at a forum last week it was an open secret that the WBDC and the college were working on a deal. The college features prominently in a draft master plan for a theater district in the neighborhood that the WBDC and the city completed.
In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Mr. Blais said the lease is good news for the college and the downtown area. He said it’s another step toward re-imagining downtown.
“We’re the landlord and they are the tenant, but it’s much more than that, it’s a partnership,” Mr. Blais said.
He said the college will occupy the upper floors of the 18-20 Franklin Street portion of the building, and will also occupy space in the newspaper’s former press operation and mailroom, which faces Federal Street. The design will leave room for street-level retail, Mr. Blais said. The renovation will be a “full gut” and rehabilitation of the building, he said.
“This is about putting our stake in the ground to lead with private dollars,” Mr. Blais said.
The building will need environmental remediation, but Mr. Marini told the trustees that the lease includes provisions that will require indoor air quality testing within 30 days of occupancy and within 30 days of a written request for testing by the tenant.
Stacey Deboise Luster, chairman of the board of trustees, said she was thrilled that the college will have a presence downtown, because the college’s impact has always been felt beyond the current campus.