By ETHAN SHOREY, Valley Breeze Managing Editor
PAWTUCKET – Representatives for the Carpionato Group say if the planned rebirth of the mostly vacant Narragansett Park Plaza is even close to what they’ve achieved in Cranston, Pawtucket will have an “engine” driving economic growth and new jobs.
Kelly Coates, president and chief operating officer at the Carpionato Group, urged the City Council last week to approve a series of three requests from the company as it seeks to redevelop the sprawling commercial property on the Pawtucket/East Providence line.
The planned “lifestyle center” on Newport Avenue represents “a major economic impact,” he told the board prior to members approving all three items.
This project will have “all the elements in it,” from apartments and retail to medical offices and restaurants – heavy on the restaurants.
“It’s working elsewhere,” Coates said.
It certainly is working for Carpionato in Cranston, where the Chapel View lifestyle center is one of the most vibrant mixed-use developments in the state, emphasized Coates. Chapel View has never lost an office tenant, and rents are higher than every office in downtown Providence, he said. In Cranston, office tenants are treated to garage parking and secure access to spaces, all with great surrounding amenities companies are looking for. The 470,000-square-foot development is responsible for creating some 1,000 jobs on site.
The transit-oriented site at the Pawtucket/East Providence line would be “a different version” of what’s been accomplished in Cranston, with varying demographics, but also “exactly the same,” said Coates.
To make the project work, officials must address an “inadequate and ineffective roadway network,” said Coates. Though he understands some abutters have concerns, he pledged that the reconfiguration will work.
The council last Wednesday approved three proposals from Carpionato, including an abandonment of 93 square feet of land off Newport Avenue to help accommodate a reconfigured roadway, an approval of an ordinance creating a commercial mixed use (CMU) zone to make way for the project, and zone changes from commercial general and industrial open lots to CMU zoning.
The developer announced that it has agreed to pay for all traffic improvements, quelling at least one concern from surrounding neighbors. Representatives from Simpson’s Pharmacy said there are still many approvals to go before they’ll feel entirely comfortable that the proposed road configuration and new traffic light won’t impact their business negatively.
The total price tag of this project is $78 million, much of that to replace “yesterday’s technology” with modern traffic patterns that enhance safety and convenience for a mixed-use development, said Coates. He pledged that Carpionato will be a good neighbor.
The only existing building that will be left standing in the Narragansett Park Plaza is the former Stop & Shop building, which city officials expect will be another grocery store.
Applicant Amalgamated Financial Group is seeking approvals for 118,770 square feet of office space, 72 residential units, 240,770 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and one drive-through restaurant. Carpionato is the developer.
Coates said he expects at least 10 more public hearings on the project at the state and local level, and every approval is needed to allow the project to move forward.