(NECN: Mike Cronin) - The first tenant opened its doors for the $565 million CitySquare project. Insurance provider Unum held a grand opening ceremony Friday.
Unum relocated to its new location on Mercantile Street in January. City manager Michael O'Brien says the move helps solidify a project 8 years in the making.
"But those 8 years, we came out with a better project, certainly better for the Unum Corporation, its employees and certainly great for the city," says O'Brien.
The city says Unum's building and parking garage was an $85 million investment. It's part of Worcester's CitySquare - one of the largest development projects outside of Boston in the state.
"A project that literally made CitySquare happen; this redevelopment project in heart of our city, it warms the heart.
O'Brien says by locating Unum in CitySquare, it keeps 700 jobs in Worcester. Unum CEO Tom Watjen says they take their role seriously as the first tenant.
"We understand the fact is we operate in some communities about the size of Worcester and so we can actually make a significant difference in all the communities in which we operate and it's very, very important that we connect with the community and have partnerships with the community," says Watjen.
O'Brien is pleased with CitySquare's progress so far - including the opening of front street on New Year's Eve. He says it has reconnected the city.
"I believe it's going to be absolutely critical to the future of CitySquare and the rest of the city, including Shrewsbury Street, the Canal District, core downtown, Pleasant Street, and beyond," says O'Brien.
The city says the next major step of CitySquare is supposed to be done next month. Saint Vincent Hospital will be opening a new cancer center. O'brien says CitySquare's completion will be subject to the economy, but he's been dealing with interested developers on a weekly basis.