South Street construction to start in April U. to lease space for administrative offices in renovated South Street Power Station

By Baylor Knobloch
Senior Staff Writer

The South Street Power Station, a national historic building in the Jewelry District, will house various administrative offices after renovations.

The South Street Power Station, a national historic building in the Jewelry District, will house various administrative offices after renovations.
The South Street Landing Project — a Jewelry District development plan that involves renovating the district’s historic South Street Power Station as well as building two apartment complexes and a parking garage — is “barreling rapidly towards construction,” said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning and policy.

The power station, adjacent to the I-195 redevelopment land, will house administrative offices for the University and nursing facilities for the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, Carey said.

Commonwealth Ventures Properties, the developer that owns the land being used for the project, proposed a $215 million plan that has received federal and state approval.

“Sometime starting in April we’re going to start mobilizing the site and start doing some demolition and internal cleanup for the power plant,” said Richard Galvin ’79, president of CV Properties.

Because the state will be a tenant of the power station through URI and RIC, the collaboration is “described as a public-private partnership,” Carey said.

Since the power station is nationally recognized as a historic building, the developer will receive tax credits.

The top floors of the building, two of which will be constructed during the project, will be leased to Brown as administrative offices. “There will be roughly 450 people who will move there in early 2017,” Carey said.

Various administrative offices, including admission, development and computer information services, have moved to buildings in the Jewelry District over the last decade — an effort outlined in President Christina Paxson’s P’19 strategic plan.

“When we move a lot of the administrative offices to the South Street Landing in the Jewelry District, it will open up space for department centers and programs that are now just packed in” on College Hill, Paxson said. “We recognize that we’re really short on space here, so we need the Jewelry District as we grow.”

The strategic plan also cites cultivating “the economic and cultural vitality of Providence and Rhode Island” as motivation for development in the area.

In addition to Brown’s administrative offices and the joint nursing facility, the renovated power station will also include a cafe and lobby on the first floor in order to attract pedestrian traffic, Carey said.

The power station appeared on the Providence Preservation Society’s Most Endangered Properties list in 2011 and 2012 after various plans for renovation had fallen through.

“We’ve been tracking the development of the project,” said Paul Wackrow, director of preservation services at the Providence Preservation Society. “The fact that these three institutions and a private developer and the city and state are working together to make this happen is really exciting.”

Construction on the apartments and parking garage, the other two major components of the project, will begin this summer, Galvin said.

The two apartment buildings — which will collectively house 266 beds marketed to medical, nursing and graduate students — will be built on what is now a vacant parking lot, and the new parking garage will serve residents of the apartment buildings as well as people working in the renovated power station, Carey said.