What’s next for former Newport Grand site?

By Derek Gomes
Daily News staff writer

NEWPORT — The Carpionato Group plans to demolish the former Newport Grand and construct a $100-million mixed-use development that the company said would be the “largest private development project” ever in Newport.

Newport North End, as the project is being called, would serve as the “amenity anchor” for the innovation hub the city envisions developing in the North End. The 23.5-acre property would feature two six-story hotels totaling 260 rooms and 182,000 square feet, as well as two six-story apartment buildings totaling nearly 180,000 square feet. The number of units was not available.

Photo courtesy of Providence Journal

Carpionato officials and project partners presented their vision for the site at a news conference Tuesday morning in the foyer of the shuttered casino building.

“We have an incredible opportunity to marry a magnificent improvement to the transportation network with a site ripe for redevelopment,” said Kelly Coates, president and CEO of Carpionato Group, who called the proposal “an opportunity to generate taxes, jobs and to facilitate the redevelopment not of this parcel alone, but an entire region of the city.”

The development would also feature 164,000 square feet of “innovative research and office space, as well as medical, retail and restaurant space,” according to information from Carpionato Group.

The hotel rooms would be marketed toward business travelers and the apartments toward “younger workers and those seeking to downsize.” In other words, millennials and baby boomers.

Coates emphasized that Newport North End would not be a tourist destination and would not compete with the vast hotel network in the city. With the number of hotels under development and going through the permitting process in Newport and Middletown, a proposal for two more could raise some eyebrows.

“Our hotels are not here to feed off of the existing traffic in Newport,” he said. “We have to generate our own traffic.”

“The project will never be waterfront Newport, so we will never have waterfront hotels or [waterfront] restaurants at this site,” he added. “This is not a tourism property. This is the innovation district. The innovation district, in order to survive out here alone, needs the full amenity package of hotels, restaurants and retail. We will build that first, along with [office space] before our abutting neighbors begin to develop as their portion of the innovation district.”

The full complement of uses will attract the types of employers Newport wants for the innovation hub, Coates said.

The whole stretch of Admiral Kalbfus Road could look very different in the next few years as multiple projects get underway. Last May, the Carpionato Group of Johnston purchased the Newport Grand property from Twin River LLC for $10.15 million. Twin River closed the slots parlor last August, days before it opened Tiverton Casino Hotel that features both slots and table games.

Another project that will drastically alter the North End is the planned realignment of the Pell Bridge ramps, a move that could open up 40 acres for development. That is the site Newport officials are eyeing for the innovation hub that would accommodate businesses focused on climate resiliency, oceanographic work, alternative energy and defense.

And the former home of The Daily News, on Malbone Road, adjacent to the casino site, is on the market.

The Carpionato Group project is expected to create 250 construction jobs and about 500 full-time permanent jobs, as well as $1.5 million in annual real estate tax revenue for the city.

Coates said there is room for growth in those figures, citing Carpionato Group’s experience with the Chapel View complex in Cranston. Initially, the company projected the mixed-use development would generate 500 jobs and $1 million in taxes. Those figures now stand at 1,100 employees and $2.5 million in taxes, he said.

To complete the project, the company will submit a zoning amendment to the city for a mixed-use planned district. The district would be restricted to the commercial-industrial zoning in the North End and apply only to properties of at least 20 acres. In addition to city approvals, the project needs approvals from the state Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Management.

Starting this fall, the company will hold community meetings to gather public input. “There’s always going to be someone afraid of the unknown … ,” Coates said. “But I think as they come to know the project that they’ll share our vision for this magnificent opportunity.”

Demolition of the casino building will begin once the company has all necessary permits. The construction process, which is anticipated to begin early next year, will take between two and three years, according to information from the Carpionato Group.

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