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UPDATED: WPRI: RI moves ahead on $206M nursing school project

south-street-rendering

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Board of Education on Monday unanimously signed off on a proposed 15-year lease for the state’s two nursing schools to move into a new joint facility that would be built inside the decaying former South Street Power Station in partnership with Brown University.

The $206-million project, unveiled last year by developer Dick Galvin of CV Properties LLC, would redevelop the former power plant along the Providence River and adjoining property into academic space for the state; office space for Brown; student apartments; and a parking garage.

The parking garage and student housing would be in new buildings built on adjacent parking lots.

May 15, 2014: Press release from the Mayor’s Office

Taveras Administration Proposes South Street Landing Agreements Requiring Tax-Exempt Institutions to Pay Taxes

Development of former power station viewed as significant opportunity to expand city’s tax base, create jobs, spur economic growth in Knowledge District.

The tax-exempt tenants of the proposed South Street Landing development project will pay taxes to the City of Providence under agreements proposed by the administration of Mayor Angel Taveras.

“South Street Landing is a once-in-a-generation economic development opportunity for our Capital City,” said Mayor Taveras. “The project promises to expand Providence’s tax base and increase tax revenues, create construction jobs and permanent jobs, help jumpstart development in the Knowledge District, improve public access and recreation along our waterfront and assure the preservation of an iconic building in our city.”

In his economic development action plan, Putting Providence Back to Work, Mayor Taveras pledged to remove barriers to the development of key real estate parcels in the city, including the former South Street Power Station. Mayor Taveras also promised to work with State government and local institutions of higher education to bring a nursing school to Providence.

The proposed development of the former South Street Power Station in Providence includes three related projects expected to create jobs, spur economic development and anchor Providence’s Knowledge District.

As currently envisioned, South Street Landing would be leased to Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island for a state-of-the-art nursing education center and Brown University for administrative office space.

River House would be a 6-story, 220-bed student housing development that would support the student housing needs of area universities. The ground floor will contain a lobby, a restaurant and other retail space.

The 650-space parking garage will be privately owned and financed and built on land leased from National Grid.

The Administration has reached three proposed tax stabilization agreements with the project’s developer, CV Properties LLC, to spur the development in the Capital City.

As proposed, South Street Landing’s tax-exempt tenants – Brown University and the State of Rhode Island – have committed to paying City real estate taxes during their tenancies. Over the course of the 15-year lease, the City will collect $9.9 million in real estate taxes.

Both leases give the tenants the option to purchase their leased space for an appraised value. Both the State and Brown have agreed to continue paying the remainder of the 15-year stabilization agreements if they exercise options to buy their leased space or the River House building.

The proposed tax stabilization agreements also include policies that the City Council has adopted regarding the use of union contractors, apprenticeship programs, minority- and women-owned businesses and Buy Local.

Taking into account both direct and indirect effects, a private study by Appleseed Inc. estimated that spending on the proposed project would generate $248 million in economic output in Rhode Island and $92.1 million in employee compensation. When the project is completed and fully operational an estimated 622 people will be directly employed on-site.

The window of opportunity to rebuild the former South Street Power Station is closing and if no action is taken the existing structure could need to be demolished within 3 to 5 years at considerable cost to the City.

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19 Responses to UPDATED: WPRI: RI moves ahead on $206M nursing school project

  1. Andy May 13, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Still against. Inappropriate use for this building, funds and location. Another example of RI grasping at straws to save a derelict space. I can think of 38 reasons and $75 million why this smells so bad.

  2. Jef Nickerson May 13, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    I can’t even begin to imagine why you would insist on connecting this project to 38 Studios, but whatever.

  3. Brendan May 13, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    Snazzy rendering. That new top-floor space would be absolutely spectacular.

  4. Jason May 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    @Andy – you left nearly the same exact comment on Projo’s website regarding this development. If you’re going to comment on this with disagreement, then please tell us what is a good use for this building.

    Why is this a bad location? It’s adjacent to Brown’s med school. It’s close enough for a short walk to the hospitals. How is a nursing school bad for this location?

    At the end of the day, money is being invested in a building – not a business – a building is fixed while a business can fold. There is absolutely no way you can compare this to 38 Studios; I’m backing Jef up on this one.

  5. Andy May 14, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    @Jason, I left the same exact comment. This is a blog, not a committee or planning meeting.

    But with that said: I’ve been against this project from the beginning (check the archives) and I guarantee you most residents of Providence and Rhode Island do not want this either.

    Build a new building elsewhere in the area, IDK… Victory Place? Would be less expensive to build new. A nursing school does not make sense for this PARTICULAR building with its location adjacent to the riverfront park and future pedestrian bridge — public spaces — and so should the use of this building.

    I’m not against the building of a nursing school. I’m against the use of this particular building based on its proximity to other public spaces. It just doesn’t make sense from an architectural, urbanists and urban planning perspective. The relationship to the immediate lots and to this project make no sense.

    Jef, if you can’t figure out why tax payers wouldn’t relate this or any future project to its size, cost and scope to 38 studios, then you are completely out of touch and perhaps shouldn’t be running a blog on such topics – but whatever.

  6. Jef Nickerson May 14, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    If every time the State tries to make an investment in something, we’re completely paralyzed because: 38 Studios, then we should just give up being a State.

    This project and 38 Studios are completely unrelated in every way.

  7. barry May 14, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    Agreeing with Jef, I don’t see a connection with 38 Studios and I don’t see another realistic better use for the building. And voters have repeatedlysupported bonds for public higher ed facilities, we only trned down the bond when it was for a musuem there.
    I am troubled by all the emphasis on parking. Apparently about 600 spaces for this building and today’s paper indicates another 1250 spaces in a $43 million (plus interest) parking garage at the Garrahy Court House. This should make the oil industry happy.

  8. Andy May 14, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Disagree.

  9. David Rocha May 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Ugh, I have grown so tired of the rampant contrarianism that inevitably comes out every time there’s a conversation about ANY investment in the city of Providence. It’s apparently the social plague of our state’s culture.

    While I would agree with Andy that another use would have perhaps been preferred (a waterfront hotel, apartments, or something of the sort), I can’t seem to find any just reason to oppose the plan to use this building for SOMETHING. Would it have been cheaper to build new elsewhere? Really, I’m asking. The building is pretty much gutted clean at this point, so I would think that the lack of internal demo work needed would actually reduce the cost of using this building, but I’m not an engineer, so I’m speculating.

    Anyway, apartments WILL be coming along with this project, although not in the building, so in the end, it still works out for the area. I can’t even find a problem with the funding for the project. The state isn’t borrowing any money for this at all, a private developer is doing all of the work, they’ll just be leasing space. While I can often agree that there is a problem with how the state usually funds projects through borrowing, which raises the cost significantly and actually limits the amount of money we can ultimately spend on public investments, but it just doesn’t apply here. So can we move on from Andy’s comments?

  10. David Rocha May 14, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Can’t edit typos once a post is up, huh? Bummer, I screwed up that second to last sentence.

  11. Michael May 14, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    This project is a no-brainer. No other renders available yet?

  12. Andy May 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Hyperbole is an amazing thing.


    @David, its another attempt by the state that looks to be grasping at straws. Why invest in something, ANYTHING, just to invest in it? Look elsewhere other than GCPVD and you’ll see the concern residents have.

    My suggestion, and try to think outside the box here, is that something more in tune with the surrounding public interest would be a greater use in addition to a nursing school being located ELSEWHERE within the acreage of the Jewelry District.

    For example, this space, architecturally and geographically speaking, would be better suited as a year-round flea, farmer and fish market the likes of Pike Place in Seattle or the French Quarter in New Orleans. A place where our growing farm-to-fork culture, tourism and commerce can be a highlighted attraction that creates and maintains jobs statewide and that which exists long Providence’s waterfront near parks, pedestrian bridges and highways. A true connection to downtown restaurants, east-west-and south side residents that is centered in the Jewelry District.

    We do not need another student-commuter / bedroom-community neighborhood in Providence, we need an economy.

  13. Jef Nickerson May 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    This building is someplace in the neighborhood of 240,000 square feet. If Providence’s population doubled, it still would not be able to support a 240,000 square foot farmer’s/flea/art market. Also, farmer’s/flea/art markets don’t have anywhere near the amount of money needed to develop a building this size.

  14. Khun May 15, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    I agree with you Jef. It is wonderful public-private partnership project for Providence & Rhode Island. Livable cities should have a mixture of great public spaces, schools & institutions, safe & walkable streets, sound infrastructure, beautiful shops & restaurants, high paying jobs, visioning for future growth & economic development, etc. Unlike the 38 Studios investment, this $206 million project is a low risk, high reward project for RI & its residents. Nonetheless, I don’t think there are many investors on this planet who are willing to invest this much money and energy without any careful business planning strategies, fruitful returns expectation & passion for the city. Below is a quote from WPRI’s article: “The good thing about a public-private partnership is all the risk is on the developer,” said R.I. Dept. of Administration Director Richard Licht. “Other than a few ‘soft costs’ for architects, engineers, and other professionals, the state does not have to put up any money until it gets the keys to the place.” http://wpri.com/2014/05/12/ri-moves-ahead-on-206m-nursing-school-project/

  15. mental757 May 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    Looks like the city and Brown have also just agreed on a tax agreement.

  16. Kevin May 16, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    This is like taking a cathedral and putting a Cumberland Farms in it.

  17. Michael May 16, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Cathedrals make for great dance clubs.

    Let’s just kick all higher education out of the state

  18. Jef Nickerson June 10, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    ProJo: Providence City Council gives initial endorsement for tax breaks for $200-million nursing school project

    The City Council voted unanimously Monday evening, with one abstention, to give initial endorsement to three tax-break agreements that would help pave the way for a $200-million nursing school/parking garage/apartment project centered on the vacant South Street power station on Eddy Street.

    The tax agreements still need one more council vote before they become official. The only comment was from Councilman John Igliozzi, and that was to praise the project and how the agreements were presented. The abstention was Councilman Kevin Jackson, who works for Rhode Island College, which is involved in the project.

  19. Mental757 December 14, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Today’s (12/14/14) Projo has a story saying this will break ground tomorrow.

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