I-195 commission hears two more pitches, ‘moving ahead’ on 2 others

The Interstate 195 Redevelopment Commission Monday heard presentations from two developers with plans for the east side of the former highway land. More

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I-195 commission hears two more pitches, ‘moving ahead’ on 2 others

COURTESY CITY OF PROVIDENCE
THE COMMISSION OVERSEEING the redevelopment of the former Interstate 195 land in Providence (shown is a conceptual rendering of what the land might look like after being fully built-out) heard from two more developers with plans for the land Monday, and acknowledged moving toward completion of deals with two other developers.
Posted 7/21/14

PROVIDENCE – The Interstate 195 Redevelopment Commission Monday heard presentations from two developers with plans for the east side of the former highway land.

Royal Oaks LLC, a group led by Richard Baccari II, vice president of Providence-based Churchill & Banks, is pitching a project south of Wickenden Street, adjacent to existing Churchill & Banks properties in the Fox Point neighborhood.

He was joined in the presentation by Architect Christine Malecki West of Kite Architects in Providence.

Emerging from the presentation, Baccari said the presentation went “very well,” but would not discuss details of his proposal.

After Royal Oaks, Carpionato Group of Johnston was slated to present its plan for the Connection at College Hill, an 850,000-square-foot apartment, retail, hotel and pharmaceutical research complex on nearly 6 acres and multiple parcels stretching across Wickenden.

Royal Oaks and Carpionato follow the initial two proposals to pitch the commission in June: Lincoln Property Co. and Cambridge Biolabs.

On Monday 195 Commission Executive Director Jan Brodie described the two proposals heard in June as “approved to proceed,” although the commission has not made any public vote about the proposals and has yet to sign a “letter if intent,” the non-binding step that would precede a purchase and sales agreement.

Brodie said she had facilitated meetings between Lincoln and city officials to discuss zoning and taxation issues.

She said Lincoln, which has offered few details of its proposal, is not planning to include parking in its project, requiring a variance under current zoning.

Cambridge Biolabs leaders have said they do not intend to include on-site parking, either.

The projects are “moving ahead quite well” to get to a letter of intent, Brodie said.

Cambridge Biolabs, which is proposing a life sciences accelerator and lab space with the Ocean State Angels investors group, is planning to finance the project through the federal EB-5 program.

EB-5 provides green cards for foreign investors in exchange for their investment. The accelerator would be the first EB-5 project in Rhode Island.

Brodie said Cambridge Biolabs faced a “long road” in putting financing together from a number of sources. Asked by commissioner Michael Van Leeston if the project is “highly dependent” on EB-5, Brodie said it was.

On another commission matter, a lawyer representing the owner of an abutting property revealed that part of a parking lot he has thought he owned for 50 years actually belongs to the commission.

The lot is adjacent to the nightclub The Spot Underground at Richmond and Friendship streets. The would-be owner, Stephen Beranbaum, asked the commission to sell the 3,990-square-foot strip of land to him or allow him to use it under an easement or license.

Commissioners seemed reluctant to allow the arrangement to continue long term, but agreed to give Beranbaun 30 days to stop using the 28 parking spaces.

Leaving the meeting close to 9 p.m., Carpionato Vice President Kelly Coates, when asked about what happens next, said the ball “was in the commission’s court.”

The commission emerged from executive session after nearly four-and-a-half hours to say no votes were taken.

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