Infrastructure Contest: Crompton Place

Below is one of five top Infrastructure Projects, selected in our Strongest Infrastructure Project contest by a panel of Strong Towns staff and contributors. Read through this submission and the others, then vote for the strongest.

Find more information about this contest here, and be sure to tune into our ongoing conversation about infrastructure funding in America here.

Name of Project: Crompton Place

Location: Worcester, MA

Submitted by: Jane Jacobs in the Woo

Type of project: Private

About the project: In honor of urban theorist Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday this past May, "Jane Jacobs in the Woo” formed to inaugurate a full year of community conversations and actions about building a vibrant Worcester, Massachusetts. Jane Jacobs in the Woo is pleased to nominate Crompton Place, a locally owned, mixed-use development in Worcester’s up-and-coming Canal District neighborhood for Strong Towns' Best Infrastructure Project. Listed on the national historic register in 1980, this property was the site of Crompton Loom Works famous for its textile and invention of an innovative power loom.

The interior of Seed to Stem, one of the local businesses housed inside Crompton Place

The interior of Seed to Stem, one of the local businesses housed inside Crompton Place

Crompton Place demonstrates the core Strong Towns principles in the following ways:

  • Creative and adaptive reuse of Crompton Loom Works, an historical former industrial textile mill purchased in 2007 by a local small-scale developer who actually lives on-site
  • Mixed use development combining retail and service businesses, an artisanal bread bakery, a non-profit home ownership center, the Blackstone Canal Historical Museum and residential units in the process of being developed on the top floor
  • Incremental pace of development
  • Celebration and promotion of small, locally owned businesses
  • Project integration and enhancer of "walkability" within the Canal District neighborhood: hosting weekly Canal District Farmers Market, free summer Thursday evening outdoor music concerts and free horse and wagon tours led by local high school students trained to narrate the history of the neighborhood and the Blackstone Canal.

As one of the oldest remaining industrial buildings in Worcester, the former Crompton Loom Works was home to the textile manufacturer, the Crompton Corporation until 1915.  William Crompton’s invention of an innovative power loom served the growing manufacturing needs of the textile industry nationwide.  When local resident Dino Larusso purchased this property in 2007, he had a vision of a creative, adaptive reuse of the historic property to build the kind of vibrant neighborhood he remembered when he was young. 

On Preservation Worcester's Canal District Walking Tour, Crompton Place (formerly Crompton Loom Works)  is stop #7.

Dino Larusso greeted visitors this past summer when he was laying the bricks for the outdoor patio in the back.  He mixed cement in the hot summer days, giving new meaning to the term “sweat equity”.  It took over six weeks for Dino to complete the patio and install a new water fountain at the back side of the property.  It is this incremental slow pace of “unslumming” that Jane Jacobs applauded. Unlike the infusion of huge amounts of public capital support other mega-projects receive, Dino has primarily spearheaded this project on his own financially. He is not only the best day laborer on site here but he actually never leaves, living in one of the residential units at this complex in the adjacent building where El Patron serves the best authentic Mexican food.  Doesn’t get more locally owned that that! 

Crompton Place is a stellar model of a mixed-use development project that is being built incrementally brick-by-brick.  Dino is renovating the top floor to become housing units. The two bottom floors house a variety of locally owned retailers and service businesses including an artisanal bread bakery, a salon, a barber shop, a home ownership non-profit counseling center, a specialized gift store, and a collective of antiques, crafts and “old stuff” vendors. Dino has chosen and carefully cultivated tenants who would support his community-focused vision and promote the ideals of “buying local”. 

(Images courtesy of Jane Jacobs in the Woo. Proposal edited for length.)

Read the other project submissions on this page. Voting has closed.