Mercantile Center owner planning hotel, 150 apartments for downtown Worcester

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By Katherine Hamilton

Developer Chip Norton announced two large-scale projects in downtown Worcester on Friday, including a 150-unit apartment building on Front Street and 125-room hotel on the corner of Mercantile and Foster Streets.

Norton, who owns Wellesley-based development firm Franklin Realty Advisors LLC, outlined the plans at a monthly meeting of the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District on Friday morning. The proposals would significantly add to Norton’s holdings at the Mercantile Center complex, which already includes the 100 Front St. skyscraper, the office building at 120 Front St., and a parking garage.

“They’re still just formulating concepts. It’s in its infancy stages,” said Kathleen Chrisom, a spokesperson for Norton, who confirmed the plans.

The hotel would be located next to 2 Mercantile St., one of Norton’s other development projects which is nearing completion. The 2 Mercantile development is slated to open March 28 as an upscale rooftop dining spot seating 500 patrons. Norton, who owns the property at 2 Mercantile St., put the 16,500-square-foot building up for sale for $5.7 million in December.

The proposed hotel would be across the street from AC Hotel by Marriott Worcester, a 160-room hotel at 125 Front St. which opened in 2018.

Norton’s proposal for a 150-unit apartment building would be constructed at 90 Front St. above the two-story property which currently houses a CVS pharmacy and the Worcester District Registry of Deeds. The apartments would be market-rate, according to Norton’s presentation to the improvement district.

Norton’s firm Franklin Realty Advisors owns the 222,372-square-foot property at 90 Front St., which it bought along with the Mercantile Center at 100 Front St. for $24.5 million in 2015, according to the Worcester South District Registry of Deeds.

Chrisom emphasized Norton is still exploring partners for the two projects and cannot provide more detailed information at this time.

Norton owns several other large real estate projects in Central Massachusetts, including the Southbridge Innovation Center and the Worcester Business Center.