January 29, 2017

Editorial: Aud occurrence inspires hope for renewal

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Worcester Auditorium

Wikimedia Commons / John Phelan

Worcester Memorial Auditorium

The “Aud” has been idle too long. The board of trustees for Worcester Memorial Auditorium will vote tomorrow on a deal that could be the beginning of a plan for the building.

The trustees should say yes. As outlined by City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. at last week’s City Council meeting, it’s a low-risk agreement with an experienced Boston nonprofit that would bring experience and fresh thinking to the problem.

The Architectural Heritage Foundation has had a hand in the preservation and redevelopment of treasures in Boston and elsewhere. Its signature projects are Boston’s Old City Hall and the world-renowned Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall Marketplace. With these two projects, AHF proved preservation and modern development could coexist.

AHF proposes to embark on a feasibility study of the city-owned Memorial Auditorium, commonly called the Aud. For a year, AHF would explore the building’s future, using its own money — at least $250,000 — to conduct the study. In exchange, AHF would have exclusive rights to the building over that time.

Any changes to the building, or its possible sale to AHF, would come later and would necessitate City Council approval. AHF would first present a redevelopment plan to the city, expected to arise from its feasibility study.

The agreement is a promising stride after a year in which the city pushed for proposals for the auditorium.

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