Clark University among partners lauded for Main South housing

A ribbon-cutting ceremony outside a new housing unit on Hammond Street on Oct. 25  heralded the completion of the Kilby-Gardner-Hammond Revitalization Project, a major initiative to provide safe, affordable housing in the Main South area.

The project was accomplished under the auspices of the University Park Partnership, a collaboration involving Clark University, the Main South Community Development Corporation, community members, and city, state and federal agencies in partnership with private investment and development firms.

The final phase of the Kilby-Gardner-Hammond (KGH) block — named for the streets framing this 30-acre section of Main South — comprises 22 new units of attractive two- and three-bedroom homes. Five units are reserved for families earning less than 30 percent of the area’s median income, and three are fully handicapped-accessible. In all, 58 units have been built on 30 vacant lots, transforming a severely blighted section of the city.

Still to come is the construction of an athletic field, funded by Clark University, that will be located next to the Boys and Girls Club on nearby Tainter Street.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray hailed the “bottom up” nature of the project, which gained its strength through community involvement. The KGH initiative, he said, is proof that success “takes time, takes patience and takes resources.”

State Sen. Harriette Chandler, M.A. ’63, Ph.D. ’73, said the houses represent an opportunity for a better life for struggling families, especially children. “Childhood memories should not be of a shelter, or a motel, but of a home of their home,” she said.

State Rep. John Binienda, who grew up in Main South, lauded Clark’s involvement in the Kilby-Gardner-Hammond area and offered his gratitude to the gathered officials. “Thank you all for having faith in my old neighborhood,” he said.

Jack Foley, vice president for government and community affairs, noted that the City of Worcester “works on partnerships,” praising the team of public and private players who brought the project to fruition.

“This is a great investment for the city,” he said. “The work here is extraordinary, and is dedicated to serving the families of this neighborhood every day.”

Since the inception of the KGH revitalization plan in the late 1990s, the guiding principles have been to promote the redevelopment of the area while maintaining the neighborhood’s essential characteristics.