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Brown, RIC and URI Unveil $206M Redevelopment Plan for Providence’s Dynamo House

28 Jun 2013, 11:13 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Brown University, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island are teaming up on a plan to reinvent the South Street Power Station  in Providence as a $206 million mixed-use development that will combine educational, residential and commercial functions.

Commonwealth Ventures Properties has been tapped for the makeover of the complex, a 101-year-old former Narragansett Electric/National Grid facility, which has been vacant since 1999.

Outlined in a June 27 statement, the proposal calls for transforming the 101-year-old Dynamo House into a 120,000-square-foot nursing education center to be shared by RIC and URI; 150,000 square feet of  housing for graduate students, medical students and upper-level nursing students; 120,000 square feet of office space for Brown; 20,000 square feet of space intended to attract start-ups and other technology-based companies; 15,000 square feet of retail space and restaurants; a 600-space parking structure on Point Street; and improved public space along the Providence River.

Pending endorsement of the concept by the state General Assembly, RIC, URI, state officials and Commonwealth Ventures could move ahead with negotiations of a long-term lease agreement. Long-term commitments from Brown to take about half the space, and from the state for the  joint RIC/URI nursing center, will enable the project to move forward.

Project financing will draw on a variety of financing sources, including new and previously committed state historic tax credits, private debt and equity, and revenue generated by the parking structure. Officials estimate that the project would create some 1,500 construction-related jobs, more than $90 million in employee compensation and about $248 million worth of economic output.

“Over the last decade, Brown has invested more than $200 million in the Jewelry District, renovating facilities to support research, education, and administration and supporting a range of neighborhood enhancements,” said Christina Paxson, president of Brown. “By pursuing this project and this partnership, we hope to further enliven the neighborhood, transforming this important but neglected facility into an enduring asset, adding value to a critical area of our city and state.”

Photo credits: Marc Belanger via Wikimedia Commons


Community Health Center in South Providence Enters Final Phase of Construction

31 May 2013, 6:49 pm

By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The $45 million development of the Federated Lithographers mill building in the South Providence neighborhood has entered its second and final phase of construction.

According to GoLocalProv, the new space will enable Lifespan to relocate several of its programs, including Community Health Services, the Rhode Island Hospital School of Diagnostic Imaging, the Lifespan Youth Development Program, and Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s renowned Children’s Neurodevelopment Center. The company intends to lease 27,000 square feet at the Federated Lithographers site.

Plans also call for the construction of a 5,000-square-foot Walgreens pharmacy store, as well as the expansion of the Providence Community Health Center’s dental clinic.

In March 2011, the Providence Community Health Centers Inc. broke ground on the complex, which is considered to be the largest private development project in South Providence. The Prairie Avenue Revitalization Initiative is supporting the project, which has received public and private funding.

According to Merrill Thomas, Providence Community Health Center CEO, the new facility will help spur the neighborhood’s economic development.

“Lifespan has long been a supporter of development in this neighborhood, and we are pleased to have the second phase of this important project get underway. We hope that by moving key services along with the employees who staff them into this community, Lifespan is helping to generate more economic activity and better health for residents,” said Timothy J. Babineau, M.D., Lifespan’s president and CEO.

“The final phase development of the Federated Lithographers site and the participation of Lifespan, Walgreens and Providence Community Health Centers are the transformative elements in moving South Providence from decades of isolation to a future of economic integration that will serve as a model for rebuilding the fabric of the city’s neighborhoods,” said Darrell Lee, president of BCOG Planning and Development and founder of the Prairie Avenue Revitalization Initiative.

“The culmination of these organizational investments in South Providence is historic and greatly anticipated by local businesses and residents,” he added.

Photo credits: www.prairieavenue.org

Kettle Point Wins Key City Vote; Omni Group Plans $5M Federal Hill Office Project

23 May 2013, 2:35 am

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The East Providence Waterfront Commission has unanimously approved a $75 million residential community proposed for Kettle Point, East Providence Patch reports. Churchill & Banks, the project’s developer, could break ground this fall on the 407-unit project, which will be located on a 40-acre brownfield site owned by BP Corp.

Plans call for 276 for-rent apartment units and a mix of 131 for-sale residences consisting of park-under townhouses, one-level condos, duplex units and single-family dwellings.Designed by Providence architect Don Powers of Union Studio, the project will also offer an abundance of open space, public parks, as well as direct access to the waterfront.

Plans call for 276 rental units and 131 for-sale residences in formats ranging from townhouses and duplexes to single-family home. Designed by Providence-based architect Don Powers of Union Studio, the development will incorporate abundant open space and direct access to the waterfront. State transportation, environmental and coastal resources agencies must sign off on the project before Churchill & Banks can start construction.

In other development news, Omni Group Inc. has acquired the long-vacant CJ Fox factory complex in Federal Hill near Interstate 95 for $1.6 million. According to Providence Business News, the company will invest an additional $5 million in the project, which will comprise 48,000 square feet of Class A office space and 178 parking spaces on the 2-acre parcel and will be renamed One Cedar Street.

“We are committed to the neighborhood, so we will grow as the neighborhood allows,” Omni principal William DiStefano Jr. told the newspaper. “We didn’t have a master plan; it just worked out, and we loved the neighborhood and area. We are pro-Providence, and we think it only has one way to go: up.”

Upon completion, the four-story, red-brick building is expected to rent for about $21.50 per square foot. Besides the One Cedar Street site, Omni owns nine other commercial buildings in Federal Hill.  

Rendering: Union Studio/Churchill & Banks

Gaia Pays $55M for 2 East Providence M-F Complexes

6 May 2013, 2:58 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Gaia Real Estate has purchased two East Providence multi-family communities and 20 acres of undeveloped land for $55 million or $115,000 per unit, the Providence Business News reports. CBRE/New England, a joint venture of CBRE Group Inc. and Whittier Partners Group, represented the buyer in the transaction and procured financing.

Located in the Riverside neighborhood, the two properties, Winchester Park and Winchester Wood, offer 478 units distributed among 79 two- and three-story townhouse buildings. Winchester Park was built between 1971 and 1974 and renovated in 2000. It encompasses 416 units and 63 buildings. Winchester Wood was completed in 1985 and comprises 62 units and 16 two-story buildings.

“We believe in the Providence apartment submarket and intend to continue to embark on a substantial value-added program for properties,” said Gaia managing partners Danny Fishman and Amir Yerushalmi in a statement.

Amenities include a renovated clubhouse, a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool with a sun deck, tennis courts, a private landscaped courtyard, 694 parking spaces, on-site management and 24-hour emergency maintenance.

Gaia, which will also manage the properties, plans to upgrade common areas and renovate unit interiors. The New York-based company owns $1.15 billion in  assets nationwide, including 13,000 multi-family units.

Photo: http://www.gaiare.com/Gaia-Winchester.html

Providence Station on Track for $5.7M Renovation

21 Apr 2013, 6:57 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation plans to begin construction next year on a $5.7 million makeover of Providence Station. Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other officials unveiled details of the project April 15 during a ceremony at the facility.

The Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration and the state will provide funding for the renovation. Plans call for sprucing up the 27-year-old station’s physical appearance, reconstructing pedestrian and vehicular access and adding bicycle parking facilities. Engineers will inspect the south side plaza deck and identify any necessary repairs. RIDOT will replace the landscape planter structures and add improved signage to direct users to the Station.

“These upgrades and improvements will help us make the experience of traveling to Providence via rail more convenient, more pleasant, and more reflective of our outstanding capital city,” Chafee said. “I am strongly supportive of strategic investments that strengthen our infrastructure – this is certainly one such project, and I am grateful for the State-Federal partnership that made it possible.”

Providence Station was among the first projects to be built as part of the Capital Center redevelopment. Serving more than 1 million Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority passengers annually, the station ranks 16th among Amtrak’s 500 stations.

 “In its 27-year history, the Providence Station has become a major hub for trains, buses, vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s starting to show its wear and tear,”said RIDOT Director Michael Lewis. “It’s critical that we maintain and improve this facility and position it for the future as a major rail stop on the Northeast Corridor.”

Photo credits: Loodog via Wikimedia Commons

High Rock Seeks Tax Credits for “Superman Building’s” M-F Makeover

8 Apr 2013, 10:46 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

High Rock Development of Newton, Mass. is planning to repurpose the 26-story Industrial Trust Tower in downtown Providence from office to residential rental space. According to the Associated Press, the owner of the 350,000-square-foot property intends to build up to 290 apartments on the upper floors, as well as ground-floor retail and restaurant space.

Bill Fischer, a spokesman for High Rock, told AP that the company is seeking historic tax credits to reposition the 85-year-old Art Deco landmark, which is Rhode Island’s tallest office building.

“Downtown Providence is in real need for residential rental space. It’s not in dire or desperate need for office space,” he said. “When you start to talk about the future of Providence and what it’s going to look like in five to 10 years … it makes perfect sense.”

High Rock is awaiting the results of an economic impact study it commissioned to determine the best re-use of the property. The company hopes to come up with a clear redevelopment plan in three or four weeks.

Also known as the Superman building, the property at 111 Westminster St. opened in 1928. Its only tenant, Bank of America, completed its move out of the building last month.

Photo credits: Julie Kertesz via Wikimedia Commons

Omni, WinnDevelopment Wrap $21M West End M-F Rehab

23 Mar 2013, 3:22 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A $21 million makeover has transformed a series of dilapidated buildings in Providence’s West End into 83 units of energy-efficient affordable housing. A year of construction was capped off March 11 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and other federal, state and local officials.

To create the new rental properties, collectively named Phoenix Apartments, a joint venture of Omni Development Corp. and WinnDevelopment rehabilitated or rebuilt 22 abandoned and foreclosed multi-family buildings on Althea, Waverly, Bellevue, Hanover, Cranston and Waldo streets. The developers demolished seven buildings and replaced them with nine new buildings and three parking sites.

Another 17 buildings were gutted and rehabilitated; seven of those properties were rebuilt either with fewer units or fewer bedrooms in order to reduce density. Also included is 3,148 square feet of space for property management offices, a central laundry facility and a community meeting room.

A variety of public and private sources provided funding, including Rhode Island Housing, HOME, LeadSafe Homes Program, Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the 2006 voter-supported housing bond, Building Homes Rhode Island, Bank of American Merrill Lynch and Housing Credits

“Preserving 83 units of affordable housing meets a critical need in our capital city,” said Joseph Caffey, president of Omni Development Corp., and managing partner of Phoenix Apartments, L.P. “We trust that our Phoenix residents will benefit for many years from these new HUD Section 8 apartments.”

Rhode Island Housing acquired the properties from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2010 and selected the Omni/WinnDevelopment team to redevelop them. As a condition of the plan’s approval by HUD, the developers maintained 83 apartments with the identical bedroom count identified in the Section 8 contract. The Section 8 rental assistance program allows each household to pay 30 percent of its income for rent

“These new affordable rental homes are a perfect example of turning a liability into an asset,” Governor Chafee said. “These formerly abandoned and foreclosed buildings – which previously were a risk to the community in terms of fire or vandalism – will now provide safe and affordable housing to Rhode Islanders in need.”

Photo: Rhode Island Housing

Washington Trust Finances Historic Downtown Office Building, Parking Facilities

11 Mar 2013, 5:34 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Washington Trust’s commercial real estate group has provided mortgage financing for One Financial Center Plaza, an historic 128,000-square-foot office building at 10 Weybosset Street in Downtown Providence.

Completed in 1896, One Financial Center Plaza was the city’s first fireproof steel-framed high-rise building. It was a multi-tenant office and retail property until its acquisition by Amica Insurance Co. in the 1950s.

The property returned to multi-tenant status when it was acquired by its current owner, One Financial Center Plaza L.L.C., in the 1990s.

“This is an exceptional property— not only is it well positioned in Providence’s Financial District, but it is has good quality interior finishes and has the ability to offer parking onsite or in nearby owned lots,” said Joseph J. MarcAurele, chairman and CEO of Washington Trust.

In another recent Downtown Providence transaction, Washington Trust’s commercial real estate group provided a $6.2 million loan to Union Station Parking L.L.C., an entity controlled by the Marsella family, on a 160-space parking lot adjacent to Union Station Garage. Both facilities are owned by the Marsella family. The financing will assist the Marsella family in acquiring sole ownership of parking operations at Union Station Plaza.

The 1.17-acre surface lot is owned by Ron Marsella, who has completed several redevelopment projects in Downtown Providence, most notably the Capital Center.

Photo credits: Loodog via Wikimedia Commons

Court Approves Sale of 82 Acres at Rocky Point for State Park

22 Feb 2013, 11:34 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

The state of Rhode Island has received the U.S. District Court’s approval to purchase 82 acres of the historic Rocky Point property in Warwick for $9.65 million. According to the state Department of Environmental Management, the Court’s decision will allow the development of a state park 10 miles from Downtown Providence.

The transaction is expected to close in about one month. The acquisition will be funded through the $10 million Open Space bond approved by Rhode Island voters in 2010.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, acting as receiver for Moneta Capital, is the current owner of the property. “The Court’s decision today brings the State of Rhode Island significantly closer to successfully acquiring and preserving this iconic property,” noted Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Once the state acquires the land, DEM will develop a work plan and secure financing for the reconversion of the property into a public park.

Dating back the late 1840s, Rocky Point Park was a popular amusement park on the Narragansett Bay side of Warwick. The approximately 120-acre property closed in 1995 and its owners filed for bankruptcy the following year.

In 2007, with state and federal support, the City of Warwick acquired a 41-acre waterfront parcel of the Rocky Point land. That redeveloped property is now open for public use.



Developers Weigh Options for “Superman Building” Makeover

10 Feb 2013, 7:44 pm

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

High Rock Westminster L.L.C., the owner of the 26-story Industrial Trust Tower in downtown Providence, has hired Cornish Associates to study options for re-use and redevelop the property. The Providence Business News reports that Cornish has commissioned a study to determine whether converting the city’s tallest building to residential use is physically and financially feasible.

Cornish president and CEO Arnold Chace told the Business News that he leans toward repurposing Industrial Trust Tower as a primarily residential property with 200 to 300 units. Cornish’s feasibility study is expected next month, and a final development plan could be in place this spring or summer.

David Sweetser, founder of High Rock Development L.L.C, told the newspaper that he would consider a variety of possible uses for the landmark at 111 Westminster St. “There has been a need for housing in Providence for some time, and I think this would go a long way toward satisfying that,” Sweetser explained. “Clearly there seems to be a pulse there, but I don’t know yet how viable it is. There could be other uses and a market for offices, retail and student housing.”

Completed in 1928, the Industrial Trust Tower is also known as “The Superman Building” for its resemblance to the fictional headquarters of the “Daily Planet” newspaper in the 1950s television series. High Rock Westminster L.L.C., an entity controlled by Sweetser, paid $33 million for the property five years ago. The building’s only tenant, Bank of America, will move out completely by March.