Greater City Providence

Stick a fork in it: Pawtucket Hampton Inn

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PBN reports today that Carpionato Properties, Inc. has missed a crucial deadline in their work on the proposed Hampton Inn on Division Street in Pawtucket. The project was announced in 2004 with the first 100 of a planned 200 rooms said to open in 2005. 2005 came and went with no work on the site. In 2007 some site work started, a fence went up, and a sign went up stating that the hotel would open in 2008.


Photo © Speck

It is now 2009 and according to an agreement with the city of Pawtucket (who sold the land to Carpionato for $1), the first 100 rooms were to be open by July 10th or the ownership of the property would revert back to the city. The Bucket Blog reported that the city reviewed the issue in June with the developer seeking a two year extension, the request being sent to committee for review. PBN reports the city will have a decision on whether to grant an extension or take back the property and seek new proposals for development within 30 days. The Pawtucket Foundation is urging the city to exercise its right to take back the property.

Aside from the current poor economic climate in the state, in the past Carpionato has claimed that the imminent rebuilding of the adjacent Pawtucket River Bridge would negatively impact the proposed hotel.

If ever built, the hotel will certainly be a positive contribution to the Pawtucket tax base, and will be a good re-use of a vacant parcel within the city. The city also wants the redevelopment to serve as an anchor for the riverwalk along the Blackstone. Pawtucket already has a highway-side hotel across the way however, the Comfort Inn on George Street. While Pawtucket struggles to reinvigorate its Downtown, a downtown hotel could go a long way towards achieving that goal. A hotel on one of the parking lots across from Slater Mill would serve downtown Pawtucket itself, and not be simply a roadside hotel for Providence like the many Holiday Inn Expresses and Super 8’s found in suburbs throughout the metro.

Of course Pawtucket’s labyrinthine streets provide a barrier to developers wanting to place a hotel downtown (if such a developer even existed). While Downtown Pawtucket continues to be very much a work in progress and a there without a lot of there there yet, any hotel development will have to also rely on overflow from the Providence market (especially low price overflow), so easy access to the highway is essential.

While the economy is in the toilet as it is, there is really no need to keep banging away at this endlessly wheel spinning project. Indeed the bridge construction probably will be an issue, meaning any two-year extension will likely become a four-year extension and then who knows, some scaled back project the city didn’t really envision..? The city should take back this property, work on the proposals underway to try to start detangling the downtown street grid (I use grid for lack of a better term, there’s nothing grid about Pawtucket’s streets), and revisit what this site should be. Should a roadside hotel really be the anchor for a riverwalk park? Wouldn’t the city really rather try to score a downtown hotel? What sort of imaginative mixed use project is actually better suited for this location? The city has an opportunity wherein they own this parcel, sure it would be good to get the tax money that a developed property would bring in, but ownership allows the city to take time and be considerate of what ends up on this parcel.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I wouldn’t be so quick to stick a fork in it. Carpionato has invested $1.3mil (his attorney says) and will not go down without a fight. I agree we’ll see no hotel, but my guess is we’ll also see nothing else for some time as this is resolved. Not a big disappointment about nothing else. For the next few years Division St. will be a mess with the bridge construction.

  • First, an eye-witness update. The site is now chest-high in weeds. The sign announcing a 2008 opening is still there.

    But, Jef, your question about an alternative use is the key one here.

    Actually, I think Pawtucket has a spectacular opportunity with this, and I supremely doubt they’ll have the wherewithal to do anything of the kind.

    On the map above, ALL THE PROPERTY bounded by I-95, Water, the State Pier (south) and the river IS AVAILABLE!!! A massive Central Park just blocks from Downtown and spanning both sides of the river.

    Stop me where I go wrong…

  • John, I think you’re right that Carpionato will fight to keep their option to develop this site and that we won’t see any development regardless for quite some time. I think though that the city should exercise their option to take this land back. If nothing is going to happen, the city should hold it so they can act when the stars align for something to happen, rather than having to have a fight with Carpionato later either to take it back, or block them from doing something that is not good for the city.

    Frymaster, obviously the highway is a gaping wound dividing Pawtucket from itself, this site provides an opportunity to ‘bridge’ that wound. The question is how and what? What at this site will help expand the nascent vitality of Downtown and connect it to the southern reaches of the city? I don’t really know, but I think a roadside hotel is not it.

    And on second thought, I threw out the parking lots across from Slater Mill as an opportunity for a downtown hotel. I think the Apex site actually provides an opportunity to have a hotel serving the downtown, but also on the highway to take advantage of that. Not the Apex building itself necessarily, but there is certainly enough surface parking around Apex that an urban hotel could be built, oriented toward the city, but announcing itself to the highway.

  • PBN reports ground has broken on a hotel in downtown New Bedford (the first in 40 years). So someone has faith in building hotels in downtrodden city centers. I haven’t been in New Bedford recent enough to judge if they or Pawtucket are further along in their renaissance, but if it can be done in NB, I think it can be done in the Bucket too.

  • City Council votes unanimously to invoke reverter clause, Pawtucket Times:

    Councilor Thomas Hodge said that while he had initially voted for Carpionato to develop the site, he now thinks the company “has treated Pawtucket like a poor sister.” He noted that the Riverfront Commission has completed a study that puts the Division Street property as its centerpiece, and said that, despite the possibility of a lawsuit, “We need to get something positive on that land.”

    Carpionato claims to have invested $1.6 million into the project (only visible signs being site clearing, a small retaining wall, and a sign that says ‘Opening 2008’). The city’s attorney expects Carpionato to sue, but feels the revert clause clearly states that the city does not need to pay for any work if the July 2009 deadline for 100 hotel rooms and a restaurant is not met, and it was not.

  • The Valley Breeze: Pawtucket wins resolution to Division Street Hotel fight

    According to Mayor Don Grebien, the pact brought an end to a nearly three-year-old lawsuit that had prevented any further development of a prime site on the city’s riverfront.

    “This agreement brings full and final closure to litigation that for years has forestalled any new options to unlocking the great potential of this landmark site on our riverfront,” said Grebien in a statement. “We are pleased to finally put this legal matter behind us so we can restart the process to maximize the great redevelopment potential this key site offers for the city.”

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