ALONG THE WATER: Johnston-based Carpionato Group is making a pitch to buy nearly all of the available I-195 land east of Providence River. The rendering above envisions a 563,000-square-foot project with the potential to expand.
COURTESY CARPIONATO GROUP
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
Addressed one at a time, the 17 buildable parcels uncovered by the relocation of Interstate 195 in Providence will likely take many years to develop.
But Carpionato Group says if the independent state commission that owns the land was willing to sell it in larger chunks, buildings could rise much faster.
The Johnston developer wants to buy nearly all of the I-195 land east of the Providence River and make it the site of a massive mixed-use complex.
“Great cities have great, commonly built projects done by a single developer,” said Carpionato Senior Vice President Kelly Coates, who cited Rockefeller Center in New York as an example. “It’s the only way to make something like this work.”
Carpionato’s $250 million plan for the former highway land stretches from James Street and the foot of a planned pedestrian bridge across the Providence River to Tockwotton Street and the shadow of the current highway overpass.
The $250 million proposal includes apartments, stores, restaurants, offices and laboratory space surrounding a “piazza.” It’s joined to a hotel and more office space on the south side of Wickenden Street by a shop-filled bridge modeled on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy.
In total, the project would be 563,000 square feet with the potential to expand even further to the laborers-union property on South Main Street or the irregular, vacant parcel next to the Exit 2 I-195 off-ramp.
Although the bridge is the flashiest part of the Carpionato design, the lynchpin of the proposal would be buried underground, a 900-space subterranean parking garage to swallow the cars coming to the complex. (An above-ground garage south of Wickenden Street, at Benefit Street, would contain another 200 or so parking spaces.)
Parking has become an increasingly central part of the debate surrounding I-195 redevelopment, with I-195 Commission Chairman Colin Kane arguing that many parcels will be unattractive or unviable for developers without the provision of off-site parking.
There are six separate parcels in the 8 acres on the East Side that Carpionato wants to buy. Not all of them are large enough to support an underground or multilevel garage.