Newport City Council selects developer for Coggeshall School conversion

THE NEWPORT CITY COUNCIL has chosen Newport-based BCM Realty Partners, LLC to convert the former Coggeshall elementary school property into a 32-unit housing development. / PBN SCREEN SHOT / CHRISTOPHER ALLEN

NEWPORT – The City Council on Wednesday met in executive session and voted to move forward with a proposal from Newport-based BCM Realty Partners, LLC to convert the vacant Coggeshall School property into a 32-unit housing development. 

The council released a request for proposals to redevelop the combined six-parcels in March 2022 and received four applications, settling on BCM’s offer to purchase the parcels for $1 million.

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Until a final transaction, the city now retains the right to renegotiate the current offer or settle on a land-lease agreement, according to the resolution. The sale or lease of the property will not go through until the developer receives all necessary city and board approvals, which will could take between one and two years, according to city planning documents.

The city estimates the development will generate between $75,000 and $85,000 in annual tax revenue. 

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Constructed in 1899, the school was closed by the Newport School Department and transferred to the city after declining enrollment sparked the city’s consolidation of all public elementary schools into the Claiborne Pell Elementary School. 

BCM also redeveloped the former Cranston-Calvert school into 34 apartments that came online in 2022.

The proposal includes a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units, with all the one and two-bedroom units dedicated to workforce housing, defined by R.I. Housing as affordable to people earning between 80% to 120% of the Area Median Income. In total, 26 units will be in the 33,000 square foot former school building with the remaining units coming from the new construction of two two-family units evoking a “traditional Newport cottage style,” according to the proposal. 

BCM will also install a multipurpose athletics field and replace the existing basketball court. 

On Thursday, city spokesman Thomas Shevlin said the council’s vote “was really just the start of the process.” City officials hold the right to amend the deal at any time during review.

“We expect [BCM] to also hold community meetings with neighboring residents and will have to go through the City’s normal planning and zoning processes before breaking ground,” he said. 

Like many communities, Newport is facing a critical shortage of affordable housing. The average cost to own a home in Newport has risen 64% since 2015, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The city has only netted 24 new housing units since 2000. 

Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at Allen@PBN.com. 

 

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