Providence Foundation affirms ’14 agenda, elects officers, trustees
GOV. LINCOLN D. CHAFEE addressed the annual meeting of the Providence Foundation Wednesday, at which the business advocacy group set the top priorities for the coming year, including the redevelopment of the South Street Power Station into a joint Brown University and Rhode Island College/University of Rhode Island academic and administrative center.
PROVIDENCE – Redeveloping the South Street Power Station into a combined Brown University administrative office building and Rhode Island College/University of Rhode Island advanced nursing education center emerged as one of the top priorities at The Providence Foundation’s annual meeting, held Wednesday at Hasbro Inc.’s downtown offices.
In remarks to the foundation’s assembled members, numbering roughly 130, who also used the meeting to vote on a new slate of trustees and officers, foundation Chair William F. Hatfield, the Rhode Island market president of Bank of America, said that there was “nothing more significant than making [the power station redevelopment] a reality. It is an investment opportunity that is transformative.”
The project’s value is estimated to be $206 million, and in addition to the conversion of the decommissioned power generation plant into 240,000 square feet of offices, classrooms and lab space, the plan calls for a 150,000-square-foot apartment building next to the old power station for Brown students (including those attending the Warren Alpert Medical School across Eddy Street) that will include retail and business incubator space as well. In addition, the city is expected to build a parking garage across Point Street to accommodate the influx of office workers and resident.
In separate remarks to the assembled foundation members, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras said that the city would do everything it could to help the project succeed.
In addition to putting a focus on the power station (also known as Dynamo House from earlier plans to convert it into a home for the Heritage Harbor Museum for the state), Hatfield put special emphasis on a number of other pieces of the foundation’s 63-point action plan, including:
Continue to advocate for no increase in commercial property tax rates and make the city’s tax structure more competitive
Help create an urban park network downtown, which including the planned green space in the reclaimed Interstate 195 land would total 55 acres of park space in the city core
Expand the re-instituted historic preservation tax credit program, including updating a study of the total investment and benefits that result from the program
Hatfield also emphasized a number of other priorities for 2014:
Continuing improvements made so far in the permitting process by city government
Rehabilitation of the Amtrak train station in the city
Creation of a better funding model for the R.I. Public Transit Authority
Attraction/creation of more retail, food and arts venues downtown, in addition to the creation of more residential space
Development of a program to identify and engage the next generation of leaders in the city
During his time at the microphone, Taveras noted that the city had spent $20 million in 2013 repaving about 30 miles of roads in the city and would spend another $20 million in 2014.
In remarks welcoming the foundation to Hasbro’s downtown offices, company President and CEO Brian Goldner noted that the Pawtucket-based enterprise had moved into the location, dubbed One Hasbro Place, a year ago and now has 300 employees from its marketing and creative functions working there.