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→ PBN: Legal tangle hinders power station redevelopment

dynamo

Ownership of the vacant power plant is hampered by multiple stakeholders, mortgages, deed restrictions and up to 20 mechanics liens tied to one of the most ambitious and ill-fated public-private partnerships in the state’s history.

And then there are the $26 million in state historic tax credits attached to Dynamo House that the partnership between Commonwealth Ventures LLC and Brown University intend to use to help finance construction. The current owners of the power station control the tax credits.

With this tangled legal web in mind, the city’s Davol Square Plan lays out a strong case for seizing the power station using the city’s powers of eminent domain if clearing the title through negotiation fails.

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What Cheer / What Jeer 2013

We’re running a little late this year but we’re finally ready to run down the What Cheers and What Jeers of 2013.

what-cheer-south-street-power-station

WHAT CHEER: South Street Power Station (Maybe)

In 2013 we got another plan to redevelop the moribund South Street Power Station. While numerous plans for the building, which at one point was known as the Dynamo House, have come and gone, this latest plan engenders optimism as Brown University is involved now.

In January the New York Times and then The Brown Daily Herald reported on rumors of the university becoming involved in the project. Then in June Brown announced it’s plans for the building in a letter to the campus community.

Those plans include a home for the long talked about URI/RIC Nursing School, office space for Brown, and some sort of retail component in the former power station building. Brown also has a developer engaged in building a student apartment building in the neighboring parking lot along Point Street and the City is involved in plans for a parking structure across Point Street from that.

The latest news on the project comes from the ProJo just before Christmas with reports that the PRA is considering condemning the building so the project can move forward.

While this could all be looked at as another in a long line of proposals for the building, Brown’s involvement makes this proposal seem more promising. 2014 will show us if this project actually moves forward.

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Brown University outlines plans for redevelopment of South Street Power Station

dynamo

The University plan includes student housing, retail, a URI/RIC nursing school, administrative offices for the University, a new parking structure, and additions to the riverwalk. The vacant South Street Power Station would be a redeveloped, student housing built on a parking lot along Point Street, and the parking garage across Point Street.

Update: Brown has a Press Release up on their site including a link to an Economic Analysis. pdf

The following letter from Brown University President Christina Paxson, was forwarded to me by a member of the Brown Community:

I am writing to share news that Brown, together with the University of Rhode Island (URI) and Rhode Island College (RIC), is exploring the possibility of partnering with private developer Commonwealth Venture Properties on a comprehensive redevelopment project in Providence’s Jewelry District.

The centerpiece of the project is a renovation of the former South Street Power Station located at 360 Eddy Street, known as “Dynamo House.” Approximately one-half of this space (about 120,000 square feet) would be leased by Brown University for administrative and educational programs; the other half would be leased by the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College to house a shared nursing education program. The proposed project also includes an apartment building suitable for graduate, medical and advanced nursing students; retail space; space for start-ups and other small technology-based companies; and a new parking garage.

This week, a joint resolution was introduced in the General Assembly that, if passed, endorses the project in concept and enables URI and RIC to work over the coming months with the developer on a long-term lease agreement, which would require approval by the State Properties Committee and the General Assembly in the next session. The Brown Corporation has endorsed the concept, directing the administration to enter negotiations with the developer on a long-term lease. Assuming the details of these leases are negotiated successfully, we anticipate that construction and renovation would begin in 2014 and the facility would be ready for occupancy in 2016.

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URI/RIC Nursing School at the South Street Power Station?

Dynamo House

Ted Nesi reports for WPRI about the possibility of the South Street Power Station (aka the Dynamo House) being used as the location for the proposed URI/RIC Nursing School.

Yesterday Brown announced their intention to build their expanded School of Engineering on College Hill, ending speculation that Brown would use the old power station located in the Jewelry District.

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→ ProJo editorializes support for nursing school in the Jewelry District

Kudos to Governor Chafee for sliding into his fiscal 2014 budget proposal $500,000 in state money for design work for an advanced-nursing school in Providence’s Knowledge District. (We still much prefer the more charming and evocative term “Jewelry District.”) The school would be a joint venture of Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. The concept calls for nurses in training to spend their first two years at the RIC or URI nursing schools and then to complete their program at the new facility, presumably taking a year or two to do that.

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ProJo: Six entities interested in 195 land

So far, Rhode Island developer Churchill and Banks has expressed an interest in land on the east side of the Providence River, while University of Rhode Island President David Dooley said the university was considering 195 land on the west side as a site for a nursing school to be jointly operated by URI and Rhode Island College.

Other interested developers have not been identified. Proposals will be announced prior to meetings they are discussed at (meeting notices tend to be posted the Friday afternoon before the Commission’s Monday meetings). Two proposals may be up for discussion at the next meeting which is scheduled for February 11th.

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→ PBN: URI looking to expand Providence presence

The University of Rhode Island plans to increase its presence in the state’s capital city, according to President David M. Dooley, as part of a strategy to better prepare its students for success as well as help Rhode Island’s economy grow out of the hole it is in.

Speaking at a Rhode Island Foundation media breakfast this morning, URI President Dooley among other things reiterated his desire to locate a joint URI/RIC nursing school in the Jewelry District and called expansion of Commuter Rail to South County ‘essential.’

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Harvard looks to private partners to jump start development in North Allston. A model for Providence?

 

The Boston Globe reports on plans by Harvard University to jump start development on its land in North Allston by teaming up with private partners. The University’s plan would bring in private investors to develop a life sciences complex in the Boston neighborhood across the Charles River from their main Cambridge campus.

Does any of this sound familiar, a large institution, crossing a river, developing life sciences”¦ Of course we’re obsessed right now with the Route 195 land, but the fact is, Brown already has numerous holdings in the Jewelry District, chiefly along Richmond Street, before even going after Route 195 parcels.

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News & Notes

→ A team of scientists from the University of Rhode Island (URI) has recently published an article describing a self-healing concrete that would be inexpensive to produce. Such concrete could help reduce structure repair costs, lower cement-production carbon emissions, and even save lives, as it will help design safer buildings. [The Future of Things]

→ Markets Investing In Neighborhood Health — Shop Here
Two corner stores on the Southside of Providence will get a healthy store “makeover” this week thanks to the Providence Healthy Corner Store Initiative (PHCSI), a new initiative that unites Rhode Island farmers, corner store owners, and community residents to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain items, low-salt and low-sugar canned goods, and healthier snacks available in Providence neighborhoods. [Providence Daily Dose]

→ Paul Krugman: America Goes Dark [The New York Times]

→ Traffic reduction: An urgent public health priority
Traffic is the leading cause of death among children worldwide and the leading cause of death among 1-34 year olds in the United States. So, why isn’t traffic considered the top threat to public health by the CDC, WHO and federal, state and local governments? [Greater Greater Washington]

→ The WPA’s legacy in Rhode Island [WPRI Blog]

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Film Screening, “Where Do the Children Play?” (03/30)


Photo (cc) J. Stephen Conn

Documentary and Discussion Ask
‘Where Do the Children Play?’

KINGSTON, RI – A provocative documentary film, “Where Do the Children Play?,” will be shown at a free public screening on Tuesday, March 30 from 7:00-9:00pm at the University of Rhode Island’s new Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences (Flagg Road, Kingston, RI 02881). The film examines an issue of growing concern among pediatricians, mental health experts, educators and environmentalists: more and more children are growing up today with few opportunities for unstructured play, especially outdoors.

An audience discussion about the ideas explored in the film will follow, led by Providence Children’s Museum director Janice O’Donnell; Meadowbrook Waldorf School faculty chair Su Rubinoff; RI Families in Nature founder and director Jeanine Silversmith; and URI Child Development Center director Sue Warford.

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