I-195 commission considers 5 proposals for Parcel 28

A CONSULTANT for Real Estate Solutions Group presents a financial analysis for the five proposals for Parcel 28. / PBN PHOTO/MARY MACDONALD
A CONSULTANT for Real Estate Solutions Group presents a financial analysis for the five proposals for Parcel 28. / PBN PHOTO/MARY MACDONALD

PROVIDENCE — Five developers are competing for a single property in the I-195 Redevelopment District, and their concepts of what a new building could look like and what it should house are varied enough to provide commissioners with many options.

Meeting Wednesday afternoon, the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission listened to the final two presentations from interested developers in Parcel 28. And they then took in the analyses of their design consultant and a real estate market analyst.

The developers include partnerships with a national reputation for mixed-use development and market-rate and affordable housing. And they include a local pairing — the same developer who is now building a new apartment building on an adjacent parcel.

For the first time in the I-195 district, one of the projects would be aimed at affordable and workforce housing units — intended to priced below the market rate of Providence.

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The commission made no decision, but heard briefly from the public and its consultants.

The projects outlined briefly:

  • DMG Investments LLC, in partnership with Boston architect Bergmeyer, has proposed a 13-story building with 344 apartments of varying sizes. The residential floors would be set over retail space covering 23,346 square feet. The building has an unusual footprint on the lot, a diagonal that would allow deep sections for outdoor spaces.
  • Exeter Property Group, a real estate developer based in Pennsylvania, has proposed a multifamily building with 246 units aimed at young professionals. Almost 90 percent of the apartments would be studios or one bedrooms.
  • Waldorf Capital Management LLC, in collaboration with Providence architect DBVW Architects, has proposed a structure housing modern office space, over ground floor retail. Waldorf is the developer that redeveloped a former factory building across the street, the Irons & Russell building, and which has started construction of a new apartment building next to it.
  • Post Road Residential is pitching a mixed-use building with luxury units over retail and public gathering spaces and a 112-space parking garage. Ten percent of its units would be aimed at workforce housing incomes.
  • Pennrose Co., of Philadelphia, has a development specialty in mixed-income and affordable multifamily housing. It proposes 120 apartment units and retail spaces in a six-story, L-shaped building, with a 36-car parking lot accessed on Friendship Street and screened by trees. A full 60 percent of the apartments will be aimed at affordable or workforce housing income levels.

In a presentation made to the commission Wednesday, Pennrose emphasized its background in development of mixed-use buildings directed at workforce and affordable housing. It proposes to tap into state credits for affordable housing as part of its financing. This market is what matches the most housing need in Providence, its principals argued.

Post Road Residential, which has withdrawn a proposal it had made for another parcel in the district on the East Side of the city, wants to build a structure with units aimed at the market rate for rentals. “We’re a specialist in urban and infill development,” said Tom Montelli, among the company principals.

In a review, Tim Love of Utile Inc., the commission’s design consultant, described in detail the pros and cons of each of the five proposals from an urban development perspective. Several of them, he said, including those from Pennrose and Waldorf Capital Management, look too suburban for the emerging innovation district in Providence.

Of the Waldorf proposal, which includes a parking garage that would be located near the massive, block-sized Garrahy Garage under construction, and separated from it only by a small, brick building, Love said the juxtaposition resembled a parking garage “sandwich.”

In a brief overview, a financial analysis by Real Estate Solutions Group, the commission’s financial consultant, described the proposed transactions in greater detail.

With the exception of the Waldorf project, each proposes a building that emphasizes rental apartments, although in different configurations and densities.

The project costs for each vary, according to RES Group, from $301 per square foot for the Post Road Residential building, to $397 per square foot for the Waldorf building.

Each developer also has proposed a different purchase price for the parcel. They were described as follows: DMG, $1.45 million; Exeter, $2 million; Pennrose, $800,000; Post Road Residential, $1 million and Waldorf, $1.6 million.

In public comments, a Jewelry District resident, Olin Thompson, urged the commission to consider its mission in reviewing the proposals. It should emphasize new commercial space over residential space, he argued.

“You are basically controlling the 195 corridor. Your mission statement says create new jobs, pure and simple. Creating new jobs means commercial space.”

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.

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