PAWTUCKET – Underutilized Blackstone River corridor properties in Pawtucket and Central Falls have strong potential for retail and residential development, a market analysis commissioned by the Pawtucket Foundation has found.
A best-case scenario including substantial economic development efforts in the area by public and private groups could result in the absorption of 160,000 square feet of vacant commercial space annually between 2013 and 2015, the analysis from FXM Associates said. Under the worst-case scenario, which includes no area improvements or marketing, only 25,000 square feet of commercial space was projected and all of it in flexible live-work space.
In particular, the study found “significant opportunities” for retail growth based on the gap between what local residents spend and how little of it is spent in the immediate area.
In addition to commercial space, the study found “excellent potential” to develop market-rate apartments. Under the report’s high growth scenario, apartment absorption could increase from an average of 70 units per year to 110 units per year.
The economic development initiatives identified in the report central to achieving a high-growth scenario include improving public river access, maintaining riverfront properties, expanding and promoting river activities, reaching out to prospective retailers, finishing the Pawtucket-Central Falls bikeway.
Key development sites identified in the report include 45 Division Street, 175 Main Street, the Roosevelt Avenue parking lots, 65 Blackstone Avenue, 80 Fountain Street, the former Apex building, 417 Roosevelt Avenue, 558 Roosevelt Avenue and 1420 Broad St., Central Falls.
The market analysis will be forwarded to Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., which was awarded a $100,000 contract to develop an economic development plan for the river corridor in August.