Pawtucket approves agreements laying out timing, funding for Tidewater Landing

THE PAWTUCKET CITY COUNCIL on Wednesday approved new agreements outlining timing, funding, and private and public responsibilities for the Tidewater Landing project. Pictured is a rendering of the project. / COURTESY FORTUITOUS PARTNERS

PAWTUCKET – Plans to transform 28 acres of the Pawtucket riverfront into a mixed-use development complete with a United Soccer League stadium are moving ahead with three new agreements inked between the city and the developer.

The City Council on Wednesday, under three separate, unanimous votes, approved agreements that lay out the timeline, funding, and public and private commitments for the Tidewater Landing project. 

Under previously approved agreements between the city, state and developer Fortuitous Partners, the $284 million project relies on $36.2 million in city and state bonds to cover public infrastructure improvements, as well as up to $10 million in tax credits and sales tax rebates through R.I. Commerce Corp. Fortuitous is responsible for the remaining project costs, estimated at $240 million.

One cost the developer won’t have to worry about, at least not immediately, is the city property taxes for the Tidewater site slated to host the 15,000-seat stadium and an outdoor event plaza. A tax stabilization agreement – one of the three documents approved Wednesday – shaves off $1.85 million from the annual property tax bill for the first 20 years.

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Daniel Kroeber, the company’s director of development, said in a previous interview that the tax break will be crucial to making the financing work, including raising the estimated $84 million to cover the first phase of the project.

Brett Johnson, principal for Fortuitous Partners, described “growing interest” from both local and out-of-state investors for the project in comments made virtually to the council on Wednesday.

When the funding round will close remains unclear.

Under the master development agreement, Fortuitous has a year to provide the city with “written attestation accompanied by reasonable evidence” that it has enough money to complete the first phase of the project. The clause is among many protections in the 56-page document intended to shield both the city – and its taxpayers – as well as the developer if the other group does not make good on its promises. 

If, for example, the developer does not meet agreed-upon construction dates within 120 days of the original deadlines, the city can sue them for damages, take over construction of the project or even end its commitment to provide the tax-increment financing. Similar consequences face the city or the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency if they don’t pay what they’ve agreed to the developer or issue the state bonds.

The third agreement revises an existing ground lease agreement for the city-owned Division Street site – slated to host a hotel and indoor event center – to incorporate the division of responsibilities and funding laid out in the master development agreement.

The timing of the hotel and event center remains somewhat murky. Fortuitous in previous documents pushed back construction of this final phase until at least 2025, citing disruptions in the post-pandemic market for hospitality and indoor event spaces.

However, site work for the first phase of the project encompassing the stadium, outdoor event center and a riverwalk connecting the two properties on either side of the Seekonk River has already begun, with the stadium slated to host its first season of USL soccer in the spring of 2023, Kroeber said.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com

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