PROVIDENCE – Plans to develop vacant riverfront land with corporate office headquarters and mixed-income apartments advanced Wednesday, after the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission selected the preferred developer for the land known as Parcel 8 and 8A.
The project by D+P Real Estate Inc. was one of two competing proposals for how to develop the prime, riverfront real estate flanking the highway. The chosen project, which centers on a corporate headquarters for an unnamed financial services firm plus market-rate and workforce housing apartments, was the best fit, according to the commission.
The alternative to D+P, from Churchill & Banks Co., centered around a 10-story tower of luxury, owner-occupied condos.
The unanimous vote was taken after a 45-minute closed-door discussion during which time the commission weighed the competing proposals.
“Workforce housing is something the city desperately needs,” said commission member Michael McNally. “Corporate headquarters is also something the city needs. And in the end, it really came down to the accelerated schedule.”
Commissioner Marc Crisafulli also praised D+P for its revised design plan, presented at the meeting, which incorporated prior feedback from the commission’s consultant, Utile Inc., and the I-195 Design Review Panel.
Design changes include reconfiguring and adding spaces to the parking garage, and differentiating in height and design between buildings that will house the office headquarters versus the residential building. The revised plans now call for a six-story office headquarters with first-floor retail and an adjacent apartment building with 76 market-rate units and 19 “workforce housing” units. There will also be 3,000 square feet of first-floor retail.
Jordan Durham, D+P’s principal and founder, in an interview on Wednesday characterized the revisions as “minor” and driven by the feedback from design consultants and the commission’s design review group. The changes have not deterred the office tenant committed to housing its headquarters there, Durham said. He again declined to identify the company but said it could be revealed soon if D+P’s project is chosen.
Churchill & Banks also had the opportunity to submit additional information or revise its plans based on prior feedback but did not, according to commission documents. Instead, the Providence developer stuck with its original pitch for 52 market-rate condos, along with first-floor retail and a three-story parking garage. The $84 million project was originally the preferred option by the I-195 Design Review Panel and Utile, according to a commission document.
Richard Baccari, Churchill CEO and president, said during the meeting he was still willing to amend the design, and felt it was “frustrating” that the other developer was given several months to come up with a “whole new project” that looked much like his own.
The two projects were the only ones submitted in response to a March public bidding process led by the commission, said Commission Executive Director Caroline Skuncik. The request for proposals was one of the first from the commission to set forth specific development requirements, including a $3 million minimum purchase price and a $50,000 annual contribution to help pay for park maintenance in the district. Projects were also required to have at least 25,000 square feet of commercial space.
Commission Chairman Robert Davis stressed that the panel’s choice of a preferred developer is the beginning – not the end – of the process. Now, the chosen project will be studied at a more detailed level, with a required concept plan approval and final approval accompanied by public participation.
(This story has been updated to include the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission’s unanimous approval of D+P Real Estate Inc.’s proposal, with further updates throughout.)
Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.
Want to share this story? Click Here to purchase a link that allows anyone to read it on any device whether or not they are a subscriber.