Action Inc. HQ Gets First-Floor Makeover

This article was originally published in the March 18, 2024 edition of the Gloucester Daily Times and re-shared with permission from its author.

  • By Ethan Forman | Staff Writer


Those heading downtown no doubt have witnessed a lot of ongoing construction, and now Action Inc. is getting into the act.

Among the ongoing work visible at the corner of Main and Pleasant streets is the renovation of the first floor of Action Inc.’s headquarters in the William C. Rochford building (the former F.W. Woolworth Co. building) at 180 Main St.

The human service agency says this is part of a massive renovation of Action Inc.’s first floor ground-level space to centralize its programming and make the nonprofit more accessible to Cape Ann residents.

It’s one of four major projects ongoing within a few blocks of each other downtown, including construction of the YMCA’s affordable senior housing project on Middle Street, the renovation and upgrades to the Gloucester Police Department and District Court on Main Street, and the renovation, modernization and expansion of the Sawyer Free Library on Dale Avenue.

Diagonally across Main Street, a formerly vacant CVS Pharmacy has been transformed into The Cut entertainment and restaurant venue.

Kristin Macek, Action Inc.’s director of marketing and planning, said the agency wants to make sure people know the nonprofit is open, accessible and available to help people throughout construction with all services available. The goal of the project is to make Action Inc. even more accessible to create a resource hub.

Many first-time visitors to Action’s headquarters may be confused as its address is 180 Main St., but the front door currently is off to the side at 5 Pleasant St.

“Our vision is to create a ‘no wrong door’ service hub, offering a centralized resource center for residents. People will experience a physically accessible, easy to find, welcoming entry point for all Action services, as well as for referrals to community partners,” Action Inc. CEO Peggy Hegarty-Steck said in a prepared statement.

City records show Action bought the building with 12,624 square feet of living area for $1 million in 2003 and it’s assessed at more than $1.8 million. Its most recent former ground-floor tenants were art education nonprofit Cape Ann Art Haven, now at 20 Maplewood Ave., Unit 3, and CrossCountry Mortgage.

In a statement, Action Inc. said over the past several years, it has experienced substantial growth in its programming to better address the needs of its clients.

To accommodate that growth, programs and staff wound up spread out over four offices in two different communities, with some departments split up over separate office spaces.

In addition, the agency identified structural challenges and accessibility issues at its main office on Main Street and the Energy office on Washington Street. Action Inc. initiated a comprehensive feasibility study in recognition of these internal and external barriers.

The study was conducted in collaboration with project management firm DBI Projects. The study took into consideration community feedback from the agency’s recent needs assessment, focused on department-specific needs, assessed physical space and explored diversity, equity and inclusion considerations.

From this, Action Inc. developed a multi-point plan to address short- and long-term objectives. The agency said a cornerstone of the plan is the revitalization of the first-floor space on Main Street to accommodate staff growth, enhance accessibility and visibility, and consolidate key programs, including Community Services, Housing Services, and Fuel Assistance programs.

Some of these programs are currently offered on the second floor at 180 Main St. while others are offered at 47 Washington St.

When construction is complete, which is anticipated to be the end of this coming summer, these programs will all be offered in the newly-renovated first-floor space at 180 Main St.

“Action Inc. is committed to evolving with the needs of our communities. These strategic initiatives align with our vision to provide inclusive and accessible services,” Chief Operating Officer Allison Lex said in the prepared  statement.

This undated photo provided by Action Inc., shows the nonprofit’s headquarters as the F.W. Woolworth Co. building at 180 Main St. The first floor is now undergoing a massive renovation so that Action Inc. can centralize services to Cape Ann residents.

  • Courtesy photo


Renovations are underway at the Action Inc. building at 180 Main St. in Gloucester.

  • PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo


Ryan Gillen