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Bump In The Road: NYC Developer That Renovated Springfield Apartments Eyes Worcester

The Commerce Building in Worcester is being eyed for apartments by the SilverBrick Group, a NYC-based firm that built the SilverBrick Square Lofts in Springfield.
The Commerce Building in Worcester is being eyed for apartments by the SilverBrick Group, a NYC-based firm that built the SilverBrick Square Lofts in Springfield. Photo Credit: Kristin Palpini

An NYC developer that recently finished apartments in Springfield - with a few bumps along the way - is eyeing construction in Worcester.

SilverBrick Group, of New York, New York City, is weighing whether to invest $54 million to create more than 300 units of affordable housing at the Commerce Building, aka Worcester’s first skyscraper.

SilverBrick finished a similar, though much smaller, renovation project in Springfield in 2019. SilverBrick Square apartments in downtown Springfield is a 99-unit building featuring mostly market-rate studio and single-bedroom units. 

The construction didn’t always go smoothly. Springfield issued a cease and desist order at one point citing the use of shoddy plumbing materials and practices, according to MassLive.

Developers were able to remedy the situation and the $6 million project was completed in January 2019.

The Worcester project is in the preliminary stage as developers and owners, Commerce Associates, recently reached a tentative agreement for SilverBrick to invest $54 million into the Commerce Building, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

If the project is approved, developers plan to create market-rate living spaces: 80 studio apartments, 183-one bedroom units, 38 two-bedroom units, and 10 three-bedroom units. Commercial space would be located on the first floor.

SilverBrick is seeking a tax increment exemption plan, a TIE, much as the company did in Springfield. Through a TIE, the developer pays taxes on the property, but at first, they do not pay for the improved value added by construction. After an agreed-upon term, the project owners pay taxes on the full value of the property.

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