Developing I-195 land requires a little work

WANTED: Developers with a few million dollars burning a hole in their pockets willing to invest in waterfront property in a cool Northeastern city. More

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PBN Editorial

Developing I-195 land requires a little work

Posted 2/10/14

WANTED: Developers with a few million dollars burning a hole in their pockets willing to invest in waterfront property in a cool Northeastern city.

OK, so maybe that sales pitch isn’t going to have potential investors in the former Interstate 195 land in downtown Providence – branded The Link – lining up to fill in the 19 acres of parcels being reconnected to city streets and utilities. But it’s time to start the serious sales effort.

The process got a boost last week when the Interstate 195 Redevelopment District Commission approved a “developer’s toolkit” that lays out the rules and procedures that will govern how projects will be chosen. In addition to making the process as transparent as possible, the commission has created a one-stop shopping approach to permitting and the like, making development in the city far less painful than what has been the case in the past.

While there is a certain amount of a “build it and they will come” aspect to developing the land, there is one thing that public and private officials can do to help attract money to the capital city.

It’s time to make the Brown University/Rhode Island College/University of Rhode Island redevelopment of the South Street Power Station happen, along with the construction of a new mixed-use building next to Davol Square and a parking garage across the street.

It is a complex project, but the governor, the mayor and the universities need to feel a sense of urgency on the project and make it happen. It will show the outside world that Rhode Island can take on and complete the big projects. •

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