Menkiti died in 2019, but the family’s plans for Worcester have continued, and the Menkiti Group has become a high-profile name in Worcester development.
Chatham Lofts, in a tan brick building that was initially a YWCA boarding house dating to the 1890s, is the first of what could be a series of downtown Worcester buildings that the Menkiti Group brings back to use — and to their historic architectural appearance. In addition to Chatham Lofts and the Shack’s building, the firm has a five-story, 53,000-square-foot building similarly dating to the late 1800s at 542 Main St., whose office and first-floor retail space sit vacant today. Next door at 536 Main St., a building long known for its use as a pawn shop and check-cashing store, awaits a new use.
A few blocks up Main Street past the old Shack’s building, Menkiti owns 204 Main St., the home of Courthouse Cafe. Like the Shack’s building, a modern siding addition once covering its historical facade has been removed, with further renovation work to come.
Those other projects are in various stages of progress toward completion.
The Shack’s building, including a restoration of its brick exterior, could open for a new Bank of America office by late summer or early fall. The building, which was designed by the same architect as Mechanics Hall, will recapture its former architectural glory, said Mark Rengel, the Menkiti Group’s vice president of development.
“It looks like a new building,” Rengel said.
The glass-facade building at 536 Main St. is undergoing hazardous material abatement, with renovation work expected to begin in earnest later this year. The building is slated for first-floor commercial use and upstairs offices. Next door, 554 Main St. requires the least renovation work, and already has two proposed uses: an eatery called Center Stage Bistro and a boxing gym, which Menkiti hopes can open this year. They’re slated to be joined by upper-floor offices.