R.I. announces 15 site-readiness awards

PROVIDENCE – R.I. Commerce Corp. has awarded 15 site-readiness awards across 11 municipalities for a total of up to $800,000, Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor announced on Tuesday.

The program, created in the fiscal 2020 state budget, partners Commerce RI with municipalities, companies or developers to spur projects across the state and to improve the municipal-development process. Awards will be granted as reimbursements for costs of projects funded – meaning that if a project costs less than allotted, the state will only reimburse the actual cost.

The 15 awards, which mark the first round of the site-readiness awards program, will involve over 300 acres, Commerce said. The program received 22 proposals seeking a combined $4.4 million. Projects were said to be selected based on their readiness to proceed, the potential impact of the project and the extent that a project involved additional private investments or matched funds.

Grants ranged from up to $5,000 to up to $125,000.

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To be considered, projects needed to be comprised of a minimum of 2 acres or 100,000 square feet of existing or planned building space in urban areas. Suburban or rural projects were required to span a minimum of 10 acres.

The recipients were (in order of potential nominal value):

  • Brookwood Finishing (based in Richmond): Up to $125,000 to fund feasibility an engineering studies for a proposed heat and power plant designed to lessen the company’s manufacturing operations carbon footprint and impact on the local grid.
  • North Smithfield: Up to $100,000 to kick-start redevelopment of Branch Village, an 80-acre industrial park site by funding the procurement of professional services to begin the civil design and permitting effort.
  • RI Waterfront Enterprises (East Providence): Up to $100,000 for a mixed-use development on roughly 40 acres on the South Quay. The grant will be used to conduct a study to analyze the location as a potential port facility and how it could function in concert with existing port facilities in the area.
  • Smithfield: Up to $100,000 to fund analysis and improvements related to the sewer and water system in the town’s designated growth center.
  • Blount Boats (Warren): Up to $75,000 to support master planning for developing 6 acres along the Warren River. The improvements would allow the company to increase capacity and service Crew Transfer Vessels for wind farms.
  • Rubius Therapeutics (Smithfield): The Cambridge, Mass.-headquartered company will use up to $75,000 in funds to enable further development of a preliminary master plan study and support engineering studies of its manufacturing facility site in Smithfield.
  • LEDVANCE, owner of the Osram-Sylvania Site (Central Falls): Up to $50,000 to support engineering analysis for the potential demolition of all or part of the manufacturing facilities located on Broad Street.
  • Exeter: Up to $50,000 for a multiphase project that will develop a zoning overlay for a 150-acre site to streamline development. The location of the site is at routes 102 and 3. The funding will be used to hire a consultant to conduct GIS analysis and a high-level market study, as well as to draft the GIS map.
  • Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island and Woonsocket: Up to $48,500 to support master planning and engineering studies needed to prepare Highland Park and 6.1 adjacent acres of land for development.
  • Central Falls: Up to $30,000 to help pay for the city’s efforts in drafting and preparing a new comprehensive plan and zoning code.
  • Rhode Island Fast Ferry: Up to $30,0000 to pursue an expansion of its offshore wind services at Quonset Point in North Kingstown. The grant will fund one-third of its permitting costs from the Coastal Resources Management Council, the Department of Environmental Management and Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Central Falls: Up to $20,000 to assist in unlocking a $286,000 grand from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to support redevelopment of the Osram-Sylvania site now owned by LEDVANCE.
  • What Cheer Flower Farm (Providence): Up to $15,200 to support architectural and structural engineering work, as well as fun improvements to secure the nonprofit farm’s headquarters and training site in the Olneyville neighborhood.
  • North Kingstown: Up to $15,000 to support town efforts to identify redevelopment sites and conduct an audit of the area’s existing regulatory framework to expedite development.
  • Westerly: Up to $5,000 to review and map out the process flow for zoning permits and planning applications.

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