Former St. Joseph Hospital property to be donated to Providence for K-8 school

Updated at 4:17 p.m.

FORMER PROVIDENCE Mayor Joe Paolino, shown in 2017 in front of the former St. Joseph's hospital on Peace St., in the Elmwood section of the city. PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE — Two buildings and a parking lot at the former St. Joseph Hospital will be donated to the city for conversion to a K-8 public school, property owner Joseph R. Paolino Jr. announced on Tuesday.

Paolino, a former Providence mayor, purchased the former hospital and surrounding property several years ago, initially intending to renovate it into apartments for homeless city residents. After significant community opposition, Paolino abandoned that idea and tried to sell the site.

The now-vacant property, once renovated, could involve a $75 million investment, Paolino announced, describing it as one of the largest public-private investments on Broad Street in years. The property being transferred was assessed by the city at $7 million, he noted.

The city has budgeted $75 million for the St. Joseph improvements in its school capital plan, according to a news release from Mayor Jorge O. Elorza’s office.

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The property is located at 21 Peace St., in the Elmwood neighborhood.

Paolino said he wanted to give back to the city as a lifelong resident and a business leader.

“I want nothing more than to see Providence succeed,” he said. “Providing a building that will become a state-of-the-art, clean and healthy learning environment for our young people is the best, most impactful way possible that I can imagine to give back.”

The buildings involved in the transfer — the East Building and the chapel — cover 150,000 square-feet of space. In addition, a 1.5-acre parking lot will be transferred.

Paolino said he would stipulate that 30% of the renovation work would be conducted by women- or minority-owned contractors. And 1% of the cost of the school construction would be donated to public art.

The property will be donated to the city through Elorza’s office. The city will become the property owner and will cooperate with state education officials in carrying out the city schools’ improvement plans, according to the release.

(SUBS fourth paragraph with details on funding.)

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for PBN. Contact her at Macdonald@PBN.com.

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