I attended the MA Creative Economy Council meeting held at the Hanover Theatre a few weeks back. Among other items discussed, Becker College president Robert Johnson briefly talked about the tremendous growth of the video game design industry in recent years and highlighted MA and Worcester's emerging leadership role in this area. Becker's Tim Loew, Director of Academic Planning & Operations, then briefly discussed efforts to get the MA Video Game Institute (VGI) - a partnership between industry, academia & government to promote and nurture the development of the video game design industry in MA - open for business on Becker's Worcester campus by this fall.
I think starting the MA VGI at Becker is the right move, right now this incubator needs to be incubated. Given Becker's reputation in the field and the leadership and initiative they have demonstrated in this area lately, Becker makes for a good match. Thinking a few years out, however, if the MA VGI is indeed successful and needs significantly more space for expansion, where and how will it expand? There is where I think that Worcester's Junction Shops present a really exciting opportunity for the MA VGI.
The Junction Shops consists of three parcels totaling approximately 4.6 acres of land with a FY 2011 assessed value (which, in MA, is theoretically the same as the market value) of $1.1MM. The largest parcel, at 2.8 acres, contains 200,000 SF + of historic and mostly vacant multi-story industrial space. The other two parcels, one across Beacon St. and the other across Jackson St. from the main parcel are presently undeveloped.
|The Junction Shops Property (Brown) in Worcester, MA|
|The Junction Shops (Brown) and Platinum Premiere (Yellow) Properties in Worcester, MA|
Combined, the Junction Shops and Platinum Premier parcels offer 6.7 acres of land and 200,000 SF + of historic multi-story industrial space with a FY 2011 assessed value of $2.1MM. Long term, I support the development of a dense urban district developed following smart growth principals, but near term I am well aware of Worcester's love for their car and convenient parking. So, as a first step in the redevelopment process, I would suggest starting out with surface parking on the outer lots.
|The Junction Shops Buildings (Brown) and Proposed Surface Parking (Yellow)|