‘If you need to relocate, we can make a case that being in Warwick is pretty compelling.’
VIBRANT COMMUNITY: The target mix of uses in the planned Station District in Warwick is 20-40 percent office space, 10-35 percent hotel, 10-20 percent retail entertainment and 30-45 percent residential.
The case for growing T.F. Green Airport to make it an economic engine driving business activity in Warwick and the rest of the state is well-known.
But what if expansion could work the other way around, with development in and around the airport making T.F. Green a more attractive place to fly and Rhode Island a more frequent destination?
That’s what local and state leaders are betting on with recently approved plans to develop the land between the airport and the year-old Interlink train station into a new neighborhood of offices, apartments, shops and restaurants.
The product of years of planning and study, Warwick’s Station District was introduced to the rest of the state shortly after the new year when Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced a partnership with the city and Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce to market the area.
“This area has huge potential,” said Lauren Slocum, president and CEO of the Warwick-based Central Rhode Island Chamber. “It will blend residential with commercial. It will enable individuals not only in the area, but those coming in, to have a central location to conduct business. What they are talking about for types of use, developers have expressed an interest in.”
The potential Slocum and others see in the Station District is an expanded corporate presence bolstered by a network of hotels, conference centers and restaurants that would allow business to be conducted within walking distance of the airport terminal.
“The mixed-use development in this area should support itself – I don’t think it is contingent on expanding the airport,” Slocum said. “I think one will complement the other.”
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said the growth dynamic between the airport and the city works “in both directions” and development near the airport could spur traffic at the airport.
“We know that the easiest way to grow passengers at T.F. Green would be to have a new airline to start service,” Avedisian said. “However, the more that we build the infrastructure around there, the more people see it being advantageous in both directions, so that you see more people flying there because there are more conference centers, hotels, et cetera. I know some people who fly into the Chicago airport for business and never go anywhere else.”
On the state level, the partnership to promote the Warwick Station District will be led by the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, which is also actively marketing the state and the Providence Knowledge District.