PROVIDENCE – In what’s billed as the first of its kind for Rhode Island, a food hall featuring a variety of foods and vendors is coming to the heart of downtown as part of a plan that was unanimously approved by the Capital Center Commission on Wednesday.
Marsella Development Corp. said it’s moving forward with a $23.5 million project at the Union Station building in a space that once housed the Capital Grille and Bar Louie, along with a tunnel in between the two. The real estate development company said it would be the first such food hall to open in Rhode Island.
“This marks a major investment in the center of the city,” said Christopher J. Marsella, president of the Marsella Development Corp. “We’ve seen this is as an opportunity to breathe new life into the historic complex.”
The Capital Center Commission voted Wednesday afternoon to approve design plans to construct the food hall in the lower level of Union Station property, located at 1 Union Station, and the commission approved a proposal to redevelop the outdoor plaza to accommodate landscape improvements and al fresco dining.
The project also includes a separate, standalone restaurant at the Union Station property, creating a combined 30,000-square-foot dining destination, including indoor and outdoor space, according to the Marsella Development Corp. The food hall itself will be 19,000 square feet, Marsella said.
The new food hall, which will allow for multiple vendors, and restaurant are set to open in the spring of 2023, according to the Marsella, which partnered with the MK Global Hospitality Group to redevelop the property. Vision 3 is the architecture firm that worked with Marsella to develop the project plans that were approved by the commission.
“This is an important milestone moving the project forward,” Marsella said.
Marsella said the food hall will “deliver a diverse, inclusive, and approachable hospitality experience that reflects the many cultural influences in Rhode Island, presented by well-known local culinary talent and up-and-comers, in a lively and sophisticated setting” to be enjoyed by “residents, students, and visitors alike.”
The Providence-based company did not provide any names of restaurant and food hall vendors that would be occupying the space.
Commission Chairman Deming E. Sherman called it an “exciting project” and wished Marsella luck on developing the food hall.
“We are thrilled to have completed this phase of the development process and are thankful to the City of Providence, the Capital Center Commission, and the state of Rhode Island for their support of this incredible project,” Marsella said. “We look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks and months.”
Marsella said he expects the food hall project will attract 2,000 people into Union Station daily. Marsella said the project would be supported by the influx of new residents that will come with the $220 million residential redevelopment of the Industrial Trust Co. Building, also known as the “Superman” building, which was announced recently by state officials and the property owner High Rock Development.
The One Union Station property is currently owned by the Rhode Island Foundation, according to online city assessor’s records.
A spokesperson for Marsella Development Corp. couldn’t say whether the developer would be seeking any tax breaks or other taxpayer-financed support for the food hall project.
(UPDATE: Adds last paragraph with response from Marsella Development Corp.)
Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.