Four months after Saint Vincent Hospital moved to a new $215 million medical facility Downtown, it has teamed with a Boston company to redevelop the 500,000-sf property it left behind. Liberty Properties and the hospital have formed the Vernon Hill Development Co. to spearhead the renovation. Liberty principal Mohsin Amiji says the partnership is still finalizing plans, but adds that the project will include a significant residential component, an assisted-living facility as well as medical, research and office uses. He places renovation costs in the $15 million to $20 million range.

“We’re all very excited,” says Amiji, adding that Vernon Hill will market and manage the space. Located in Central Massachusetts, Worcester has benefited of late by skyrocketing rents in Greater Boston, with an increasing migration of companies seeking relief from record office and industrial rates. The residential portion, which will yield an estimated 150 market-rate units, should be attractive to people driven west by some of the nation’s highest housing costs, Amiji predicts.

Liberty has had a presence in the Worcester area since the mid-1980s, where it owns more than two million sf of commercial and industrial space. Amiji says he believes the hospital site, and the city itself, will become even more accessible once a new exit off the Massachusetts Turnpike is completed next year. “We are very bullish on Worcester, and that is why we are investing the level of money that we are there,” Amiji says.

The Vernon Hill project received an additional boost this week when US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) announced that the Department of Commerce would provide $850,000 to the Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives Innovation Center. The center will lease 20,000 sf at the former hospital, leveraging the DOC grant into the construction of a $1.7 million research and administrative facility.

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