Five Questions With: Richard Baccari II

Richard Baccari II joined Churchill & Banks as a property manager and was elevated to the role of CEO and president in 2015. His responsibilities include site selection, permitting and overseeing leasing functions for both owned and managed properties within the firm’s portfolio. Baccari graduated Bryant University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and is a licensed real estate broker. He was recognized in Providence Business News’ Top 40 Under Forty awards program.

PBN: What is appealing to your firm in repurposing older properties, such as the old mill on Atwells Avenue that will become the Strive Lofts, a 70,000 square foot 56-unit apartment building project?

BACCARI: Real estate development generally is a very challenging venture, especially in Rhode Island. Redeveloping and repurposing old mill buildings such as 556 Atwells, which requires a significant allotment of both time and money, is extremely rewarding when the project finally comes together. We like to find projects that others may not be willing to tackle in locations or areas that we feel have great potential and 556 Atwells checked that box for us. The building was really run down, had some environmental issues that we remediated, and was especially difficult to redesign due to its massive building footprint. I think people will be really pleased with what we have come up with. We are really excited to bring this building back to life so its residents can enjoy living in a great part of the city this fall.

PBN: How instrumental was receiving $750,000 in Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits to fund the $10 million project, and what is that funding earmarked for, if any?

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BACCARI: The Rebuild R.I. Tax credit is critical for projects like 556 Atwells that can give you lots of surprises during the construction process, especially during a worldwide pandemic which, as you can probably guess, created lots of staffing issues and pricing increases. The program is designed to help projects that likely would not become reality “but for” the tax credit, which can fill a financial gap, and our project certainly fell within that category.

PBN: What are some of the considerations when deciding to pursue construction projects in outdated properties, such as an old mill building?

BACCARI: The biggest consideration has to be what the end use will ultimately be. There needs to be a market for what you are trying to build. The second consideration is what will it cost to complete the project and will there be enough income to support the cost and effort. In this case, the residential market is very hot, and Providence needs as much housing as possible to balance out the lack of supply.

PBN: What projects do you feel are in your firm’s sweet spot, and what makes them a good fit for your portfolio?

BACCARI: Our sweet spot is taking on projects that others think are impossible or present insurmountable obstacles. The Kettle Point development in East Providence is a good example. That was a severely contaminated piece of property, a former oil tank farm, and over the course of five years it has become one of the premier developments in Rhode Island, with a state-of-the-art medical office facility, condominiums right on the water, and apartment buildings that were completely leased as soon as they opened. Usually, developers specialize in a specific area of development like residential homes or medical office buildings but don’t cross over to other areas that they aren’t familiar with.

We have done almost every type of development: condominiums, subdivisions, apartment complexes, office and retail, distribution centers to name a few. It is important to be flexible and respond to changing demands in this economy and I think we’ve become fairly adept at that. So, when we look at a property that has a lot of challenges, we work with our team of consultants to determine what the possibilities are. And if we think the juice is worth the squeeze, we take the risk.

PBN: What interesting projects are you developing that the public might not know much about?

BACCARI: We have a lot of things in the pipeline right now. We just completed the River Lofts, which is a mill redevelopment in Pawtucket. We are leasing 580 South Water Street apartments next to the I-195 district and hope to continue onto a second phase there. We recently purchased a major property in Cranston, which we intend to redevelop into a 200,000-square foot commercial business park and are permitting another 375,000-square foot project in Grafton, Mass. Far and away though, our most interesting project is East Point, our latest development in East Providence, which calls for 392 residential units along the Seekonk River. This site has been abandoned for 40 years and once we open it up, I think people will be clamoring to live there.

Cassius Shuman is a PBN staff writer. You may reach him at