higher education

Roger Williams narrows search for home of new Prov. location

PBN FILE PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
ONE EMPIRE PLAZA, the brief home to 38 Studios LLC, could be a potential home for Roger Williams University's new downtown location. The school declined to identify any finalists but said the former 38 Studios building had "the proper square footage."
Posted 4/12/13

BRISTOL – Roger Williams University leaders have narrowed their search for a new downtown Providence branch to five locations and hope to recommend one to trustees next month, school officials said Thursday.

Although he declined to identify any of the finalist buildings, Roger Williams Senior Adviser to the President Richard N. Hale confirmed that the school has considered One Empire Plaza, the vacant former home of defunct video-game company 38 Studios LLC.

Hale added that the 104,000-square-foot One Empire Plaza, owned by Berkeley Investments Inc. of Boston, does “have the proper square footage,” to fill Roger Williams’ needs.

“We have narrowed our search down to five different buildings in downtown and are now meeting with the owners and representatives to determine which are best for our needs,” Hale told Providence Business News.

Roger Williams is looking to lease a larger space than its current downtown Providence home at 150 Washington St., where the school’s current lease runs through May 2014. There are now 627 Roger Williams students taking classes in the downtown campus, the vast majority in continuing education.

The Washington Street space is 40,000-square feet and school officials said they were looking for up to 85,000-square feet.

Roger Williams wants the extra space to expand the continuing education program currently downtown and move its third-year law students to the city for better access to practical training in the courts.

In addition to continuing education and law, Hale said Roger Williams is also looking to move MBA and Master of Public Administration students to the city to get them closer to businesses and government offices for experience.

Hale said he expects each of the programs slated to use downtown to grow in the coming years, although he didn't have specific estimates.

One location that Roger Williams officials have crossed off the list is 111 Westminster St., also known as the Industrial Trust Tower or the Superman Building.

“It won’t be the Superman Building,” said Law School Dean David Logan. “We toured it early on, but for a host of reasons it’s not right. It is way bigger than what we need.”

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