Sapphire Estates coming to Woonsocket next spring

Sapphire Estates coming to Woonsocket next spring

A flyer on the new Sapphire Estates in Woonsocket shows some of the possible floor plans.
Board approves 28-house neighborhood in Diamond Hill

WOONSOCKET – A plan to build a new residential neighborhood with 28 high-end homes received the green light from the Planning Board last week and construction is slated to begin soon, with the first property available for viewing by next spring.

Sapphire Estates, a project proposed by Woonsocket-based developer John Laquerre, will consist of single-family, raised ranch-style houses costing around $380,000 each. For the price, buyers will get a front lawn in-ground sprinkler system, central air conditioning, gas-forced heating, granite countertops, hardwood floors, a two-car garage and 2.5 baths.

The neighborhood will be built on what is now a 7.5-acre open field between Diamond Hill Road and Morin Street, with an entrance on Route 114. A road through the development dubbed Theresa Marie Avenue will end in a cul-de-sac.

According to a notice advertising the development, buyers will have three style options including one- or two-story models and added features will include nine-foot ceilings, fire places and large decks.

“We hope to entice home buyers with our offering of new, well-designed and quality built homes at a modest pre-construction price of $379,960,” a letter on the project notes.

Laquerre told Planning Board members that the properties will be marketed to retired people and working class families, and a note advertising the project points out that Sapphire Estates will be located 8.2 miles from the Forge Park Train Station.

Builder Russell Thivierge from Simon’s Son, LLC, a company with a mailing address on nearby St. Louis Avenue, told The Breeze that a 2,200-square-foot model home will be built in Lincoln for potential buyers to tour.

Asked when construction will begin, Thivierge said, “Presently, we are waiting to get curb cut (by the) state so we can start.”

“They plan on building continuously,” he said of the planned construction process.

Several abutters noted concerns about low water pressure and the presence of nearby wetlands during hearings on the project, and one Morris Street resident outlined additional concerns with The Breeze after the approval. The runoff mitigation plan requires a bio retention basin and individual “water gardens” for each house.

“These two items are not common in Woonsocket residential areas, thereby indicating there is a significant problem with water run off for this proposed development,” said resident Mark Lewis in a letter shared with city officials. “A note on the deed indicating that the homeowner is to maintain the water garden is not sufficient. Most homeowners will see that paper at the closing and will be overwhelmed with all the information that they will not fully understand what a water garden is, how to maintain it, or what the result will be if it is not maintained.”

Lewis also took issue with the plans to build a narrow 26 foot roadway.

“The city of Woonsocket is an urban area and not a place for a rural road,” Lewis wrote. “The narrow streets were noted as being beneficial for the water run off issue. This further demonstrates that the development will be built in an area that is not suited for the number of houses being built as flooding will result.”

In response to Lewis’ assessment, Thivierge said that Sapphire Estates received full approval from the Woonsocket Planning Board and that members expressed no concerns with his questions.

“Woonsocket is one of the toughest places in the state to get permissions,” he said. “Sidewalk and curbing is the discretion of the Planning Board.”

Thivierge said that the project meets or exceeds all city regulation codes, with most lots sized at 9,000 or 10,000 square feet or larger.

“The condo abutting us is 20 units (on) a little bit more than two acres. We’re going to have 28 units on close to eight acres,” he said.

Thivierge identified himself as a friend of Laquerre, who reportedly lives in a home on St. Louis Avenue. Thivierge said the pair has been involved with building newer homes in Cumberland, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, North Providence, Lincoln and Narragansett.

Laquerre has said utilities for the development would be underground, and stone walls would surround the area, comparing his vision to newer homes along Dike Street.

The project was first proposed in February and received final approval from the Planning Board on Aug. 1. It had support from the Northern Rhode Island Board of Realtors, an organization that stated in a letter that the homes will likely fill a needed market in Woonsocket of young professionals or new families.


OK, so on one hand, here is a builder willing to put money into Woonsocket. I am sure that there will be building fees and such that will surly benefit the city. However, my questions are these:
1. They are advertising these homes to retirees and working families. How many retirees and working families can afford a $400,000 home?
2. Have they thought about the additional services that this will bring....schools, bussing, police, fire, waste services, etc?
3. What is being done by the city to bring in more business (manufacturing, etc) that can stand the test of time, and thus broaden the tax base?

Frankie, I live in a newer development in Woonsocket with houses that sold for 350-375K this year and all of them sold to working families and a couple to retired families. None of them have children except me and my children go to private school. I never see any fire trucks, police cars or ambulances on our street but we do throw away our trash. These houses will generate an average tax bill of $6500.00 a year, multiplied by 28 houses equals $182,000 in revenue, not including the car tax. I think those numbers are great.