E. Providence waterfront eyed for mixed-use plan

Picerne Real Estate Group announced last week that it has entered into an agreement to redevelop a portion of East Providence’s waterfront, turning a brownfields site into a mixed-use complex with a “significant” residential component.

The three-parcel, 26-acre property is a former terminal owned by Chevron U.S.A., said Phillip G. Loscoe Jr., spokesman for the Warwick-based real estate company. The site has also been used as a terminal by Cumberland Farms and Gulf Oil.

In a news release last week, Picerne Executive Vice President Ray Uritescu said the company is still developing its plans and will hold public meetings on the project once the details have been completed, which he expects to happen this summer.

“Even though formal plans are not finalized at this time,” Uritescu said, “we know we will offer a mixed-use development that best accommodates the unique characteristics of the waterfront and is consistent with the community’s expectations for proper growth and development on that parcel.”

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“Most importantly,” he added, “we will fully engage the community and all relevant state and local agencies in the design review process.”

Loscoe said the property, which includes 2,000 feet of frontage on Veterans Memorial Parkway, had sparked Picerne’s interest because it presents “a unique opportunity in terms of market conditions and development potential.”

“There are very few large, developable tracts of land in urban settings in Rhode Island,” Loscoe said.

Chevron spokesman Stan Luckoski said the company is “extremely pleased to be working with Picerne in the redevelopment of our former light [petroleum] products terminal, in the process converting a valuable piece of waterfront property into a development that is consistent with the city’s overall planning objectives.”

Patrick A. Rogers, who heads the East Providence Waterfront Development Commission, which is responsible for approving developments in coastal areas, said he could not comment on the project’s potential impact on the community without seeing concrete plans for the site.

Speaking generally, however, Rogers offered a positive assessment.

“We are pro-business and pro-development, and we’re delighted that a reputable firm like Picerne is interested in East Providence,” Rogers said.

The city has been actively promoting redevelopment of its 14-mile waterfront, in addition to several projects in the city involving brownfields. From Kettle Point to the Pawtucket line, projects are in various stages of planning and development.

New York-based GeoNova, which is reclaiming 27 acres of land that was formerly home to the Ocean State Steel Mill, is slated to begin the permitting process, Rogers said. That project would transform the parcel into a development with 495 residential units and retail space.

Two Rhode Island companies, The Peregrine Group and Kirkbrae Development, are redeveloping the historic Rumford Chemical Works plant, planning to turn the 8.5-acre property into a mixed-use development including office, retail and residential space.

Aspen Aerogels, a developer of technology-based insulation material, is also considering an investment of $30 million to redevelop property in the area. The proposed expansion could add 70 new jobs once completed.

Many of the projects along the city’s waterfront are geared toward a blend of uses, Rogers said.

“We’re not insisting upon each component in each project, but the goal in East Providence is to have a mixed-use waterfront” with economic viability, Rogers said.