PAWTUCKET – The R.I. Commerce Corp. board of directors on Friday gave the go-ahead to provide more than $46 million in public, tax-increment financing and tax credits to a proposed Pawtucket development project.
The unanimous, 8-0 vote, with three board members absent, allows developers of the mixed-use Tidewater Landing project slated for Pawtucket’s riverfront to move forward with public financing for roughly 16% of the total $284 million project cost.
The approved public funding includes $36.2 million in tax-increment financing, which under approved state legislation will allow revenue generated from the project to pay back a state and city bond for public infrastructure components. The board also authorized up to $10 million in net tax credits – a gross sum of $14 million – and sales tax rebates through the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit Program. The decision follows a recommendation from the Investment Committee to support the funding.
R.I. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor reiterated findings of an economic analysis that said the project will generate more revenue than the initial state investment required. Protections baked into the agreements also protect the state and city from paying for potential cost overruns, and allow potential federal grants to feed into the public investment, he said.
While the project is expected to generate more revenue than the state pays in over the course of the 30-year agreement, the state may have to allocate “single-digit million-dollar figure” appropriations in individual budget years to serve as base revenue for the debt service on the project, Pryor said.
After comments during the Thursday state press conference comparing the project to its ill-fated PawSox proposal, Pryor noted that the private investment – in both dollars and land redevelopment- is significantly more than what the new PawSox stadium project would have included.
“This proposal is very strong in the context of other proposals the state has received recently,” Pryor said, later calling the public-private financing formula a “well-framed model.”
Brett Johnson, principal of project developer Fortuitous Partners, and Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien also shared optimistic outlooks for the project’s potential to transform a long-underused but crucial portion of city waterfront property.
“I have nothing but the utmost confidence this project is truly going to transform the region and beyond,” Johnson said.
Exactly how much of the nearly $240 million in private investment developer Johnson has raised so far is not clear. He did not return inquiries for comment on the matter.
Per the terms of the tax-increment financing agreement, the $36.2 million in public bonds will be used to pay for public infrastructure in the project, such as the 750-space parking garage, “acres” of public space including pedestrian river walks connecting either side of the Seekonk River, and utility expansion related to the development. The hallmark 8,000 to 10,000-seat soccer stadium will be paid for with private financing.
The project also calls for a mix of retail, residential and office space, as well as a hotel, conference and event center, although the hotel and event center construction have been pushed back to a second phase slated to start in 2025, according to master plans submitted to the city.
Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.