RWU looks to move into former 38 Studios downtown offices

(Updated, 8:28 p.m.) Roger Williams University has chosen the former home of 38 Studios LLC as the new location for its downtown Providence campus, the school announced Monday. More

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RWU looks to move into former 38 Studios downtown offices

PBN FILE PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
1 EMPIRE PLAZA was the brief home to 38 Studios LLC, the failed video game maker started by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. Roger Williams University has entered negotiations to lease about three-quarters of the building to expand its downtown Providence campus.
Posted 8/4/14

(Updated, 8:28 p.m.)

BRISTOL - Roger Williams University has chosen the former home of 38 Studios LLC as the new location for its downtown Providence campus, the school announced Monday.

The Roger Williams Board of Trustees authorized university leaders to enter negotiations to lease 76,000 square feet in 1 Empire Plaza from owner Berkeley Investments of Massachusetts.

If a deal for 1 Empire is finalized, it would nearly double Roger Williams’ Providence footprint. Currently the school leases about 40,000 of space at 150 Washington St.

Roger Williams hopes to move in by June 2016 on a 12-year lease, said spokeswoman Lynda Curtis.

The prime users of the Providence campus are Roger Williams Law School and the School of Continuing Education. The new space also will house the Community Partnerships Center, Latino Policy Institute and HousingWorks RI, according to a news release.

Roger Williams has been searching for a new Providence space for well more than a year and had been hoping to choose a new site before its last Washington Street lease expired in May, allowing it to open its new location by Dec. 2015.

After a comprehensive bidding process last year, Roger Williams had selected the headquarters of the Providence Journal at 75 Fountain St. as its new downtown location and was negotiating to lease 60,000 square feet there in December when Journal owner A.H. Belo Corp. announced it was putting the paper up for sale, Curtis said.

Although Belo has since completed a sale agreement for the paper, the building is still on the market, and Curtis said the uncertainty of the pending sale caused the school to re-evaluate and “the question of a long-term lease could not be answered on a timely basis and the university ultimately decided to seek other options,” Curtis said.

A second round of bidding led to the selection of 1 Empire Plaza.

Other buildings the school has considered included:

  • 75 Fountain St., home of The Providence Journal.

  • 111 Fountain St., the vacant Fogarty Building.

  • 60 Eddy St., home of Big Nazo Lab.

  • 1 Weybosset Hill, the former home of Cookson America, where Johnson & Wales University has a first-floor shop.

    The six-story 1 Empire Plaza has 104,000 square feet of space and Roger Williams officials could not immediately say if the school would occupy particular floors or segments of the building.

    The building, originally built for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, has been empty since 38 Studios declared bankruptcy in the spring of 2012.

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