Developer Churchill & Banks wants to be a pioneer of Providence’s Interstate 195 land frontier.
The downtown developer hopes to build apartments, stores and offices on the former highway properties south of Wickenden Street on the city’s East Side.
But with the redevelopment process for those state-controlled parcels still some way off, Churchill & Banks is moving ahead with a mixed-use project on land it already owns next door, a development it hopes will influence the tone and direction of construction in the neighborhood going forward.
This fall the company unveiled plans for The Esplanade at India Point, a six-story, 29,000-square-foot expansion of the former Fuller Iron Works Building at 39 Pike St., now home to the Vanity lounge and headquarters of technology firm Swipely.
“I think this is not only a precedent setter, but we are pioneering the I-195 development,” said Richard Baccari II, vice president of development at Churchill & Banks. “It is tough to get a project of this magnitude off the ground, especially in Providence and Rhode Island. It is always best if we are marketing to the rest of the country that they see a crane in the air. It gives them security that someone else has the guts to go for this.”
When built, the Esplanade would serve as both an example for other builders looking at Providence and a template for the larger development Baccari hopes to build next door.
Churchill & Banks is one of at least three developers to have made pitches to the Interstate 195 Redevelopment District Commission, which owns and is charged with finding builders for the 40 acres of former highway land cutting through the city.
The I-195 Commission plans to start marketing parcels this winter, with construction of the East Side segment possible in 2015.
But Baccari said he decided not to wait for that process to unfold before beginning to build on the land he already owns.
On top of the general I-195 selection process, two-thirds of the 36,000-square-foot I-195 property next to 39 Pike St. is now caught in a legal dispute between the state and heirs of a past owner who claim right of first refusal to purchase it.