At a time when the state’s commercial real estate market remains soft, a leading developer of office and industrial parks in northern Rhode Island is pushing to fill out its newest and highest-end development with a growing cluster of biotech and retail companies.
The Rhode Island Economic Development Foundation recently completed construction of a new, adaptable 20,000-square-foot building in the Highland Corporate Park which it will begin marketing to tenants this winter.
Highland is the newest of four business parks in the nonprofit’s portfolio built over the past 50 years and may be the last for awhile as the organization looks to diversify into smaller, faster-moving projects.
Located on the Woonsocket-Cumberland line, Highland Corporate Park is home to CVS Caremark Corp.’s headquarters and the foundation is trading on the benefits of proximity to the health care giant to attract new tenants.
“Demand across the region is still very soft, but in general the strongest areas have been in biotech or in companies that provide sales service or accounts for CVS,” said foundation Vice President Marcel Valois. “There is actually a little micro-market here with a number of major manufacturers or retailers that like to be close to CVS.”
If the foundation can attract new tenants to the 20,000-square-foot building, which cost approximately $2 million to build, only two of the 27 lots in the 235-acre park will remain undeveloped.
Those other two lots could be sold to companies looking to construct their own buildings or the foundation could build structures similar to the recently completed “flex” building, which can be customized to fit the needs of the tenant. The only use the park does not allow is warehousing and distribution.
The Rhode Island Economic Development Foundation was formed through the 2005 merger of three other nonprofit groups – the Blackstone Valley Development Foundation, the Industrial Foundation of Rhode Island and the Woonsocket Industrial Development Foundation – that had been creating business parks in the state since the 1960s.
The older projects include the 1960s-era North Central Industrial Air Park in Lincoln, 1970s-era Westerly Industrial Air Park and 1980s-era North Central/Interstate-295 Industrial and Office Park in Lincoln, which is home to Amica Insurance.
The first phase of the Highland Park started in the 1990s and the development has slowly but steadily grown since.