2024 Power 100: Chip Norton

In Media

View story at wbjournal.com

By Eric Casey

Real estate is the economic driver of Central Massachusetts. Not only does the buying and selling of land create a ton of revenue for both private and public entities, it also facilitates virtually every sort of economic activity by giving it a physical location to occur in.

As the largest commercial property owner in Central Massachusetts, Chip Norton plays a key role in keeping the region’s economic engine running. Franklin Realty Advisor’s portfolio is bursting at the seams with important properties; highlights include Worcester’s Mercantile Center, the Southbridge Innovation Center, The Wellsworth Hotel in Southbridge, and the Worcester Business Center. Norton’s day-to-day activities see him regularly interacting with more than 3,000 tenants, employees, and guests.

The Mercantile Center has been having a moment as of late; now featuring The Mercantile Restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Harpoon Beer Garden, and Fuel America. The complex is quickly becoming a destination for more than just people wearing business suits, although there are still plenty of business people around, as the center is at 98% occupancy. One of the latest tenants is Venture X, a coworking space.

The Southbridge Innovation Center and The Wellsworth Hotel, both based on the former corporate campus of American Optical, are on the rise, as 81 acres of the campus were designated to the National Register of Historic Places in May. Norton is behind a 275-unit housing development at the campus, with 48 affordable units now being occupied as part of phase one of that project.

On the philanthropic side of the economy, Norton supports institutions such as the Worcester Public Library, the EcoTarium, and the Southbridge Summer Concert Series.

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.