Voke school to give way to development

WORCESTER — With the claws of a Caterpillar excavator poised overhead as if to close on the corner of a former Worcester Vocational High School building, public officials this morning celebrated funding of a $1.2 million project that will turn the vacant Grove Street school complex into rental housing and parking.

Though actual demolition will begin later this month, the ceremony was intended to kick off demolition of three accessory buildings on the site.

With $400,000 each coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts Development Finance Corp. and the Worcester Business Development Corp., developers will raze the buildings and remove contaminated soil.

That work is slated for completion in June 2011, said Jonathan Weaver, project manager for WBDC. Following this first phase, Winn Development of Boston will renovate the remaining brick buildings on the site into 67 rental units.

The housing will be part of a mixed-use strategy for this area,” said WBDC President David P. Fosberg, speaking at a lecturn set up in a parking lot next to the former WITI building, one of three to be demolished.

“Today is about demolition, but in the end it’s about community building,” said City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. “What happens here will be key to the redevelopment of Lincoln Square.”