Churchill & Banks, hotel group express interest in area near proposed stadium

Churchill & Banks, hotel group express interest in area near proposed stadium

PAWTUCKET – Providence-based developer Churchill & Banks has submitted a letter of interest in the Tidewater site near a potential new downtown baseball stadium, a significant sign, say city officials, that they would have no trouble building up development to pay for construction of the stadium at the Apex Department Store site.

The Providence-based developer has indicated interest in residential development on the site of the former manufactured gas plant.

The letter from Churchill & Banks President Richard Baccari II states that the company is “on the hunt for the next major land development” in the state, and their proposal would bring 200 or more multi-family units along with commercial uses such as medical office and retail. The site’s proximity to the proposed baseball stadium, a planned commuter rail station and Pawtucket’s riverfront makes it “attractive for redevelopment,” states the letter.

Cleanup of underground pollutants is still needed on the 16-acre Tidewater site. About 11 acres of the property is owned by National Grid, and another 5.4 acres is owned by Pawtucket. Churchill & Banks is interested in the city-owned portion as well as a part of the National Grid property.

From the 1880s through about the 1970s, a manufactured gas plant and electric generation facility operated at the end of Merry and Tidewater streets, on the Seekonk River. The Tidewater plant used industrial processes to produce gas from coal and oil. The site is located across the Seekonk River from Pawtucket’s redone Festival Pier.

Churchill & Banks joins the PawSox and Peregrine Group as companies committed to the stadium project’s development area, said Mayor Donald Grebien this week.

A well-known local hotel group has also expressed verbal interest and committed to submit a formal letter of interest to open a hotel and restaurant on or near the ballpark property, said members of Grebien’s administration.

One of the key sticking points in ongoing discussions about financing for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox is concern from some lawmakers over whether Pawtucket will be able to pay its $15 million share of the project using new revenues from ancillary development around the stadium.

The proposal is still up in the air, as state legislators have yet to announce whether they’ll move forward with a vote on an $83 million stadium, which would be paid for through a combination of public and private dollars. The PawSox have committed $45 million to the “Ballpark at Slater Mill,” and the team is seeking $23 million from the state and $15 million from the city, to be paid back in revenues.

As the General Assembly considers whether to invest in the project, the proposal is generating interest from private sector developers who have contacted the city about opportunities near and around the proposed site, said Grebien. This type of ancillary development will “breathe new life and new revenue into Pawtucket,” he said, and the two possible projects announced this week represent about $600,000 in new annual revenue. The city’s total annual obligation on the project is expected to be about $900,000.

“The Ballpark at Slater Mill is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spur development in our downtown and on our riverfront,” said Grebien in an emailed statement. “We cannot let this opportunity pass us by and the high levels of interest from the private sector are proof of just that. Now that the hearing process has come to a close and the PawSox have opened their books to the auditor general and CommerceRI, we are hopeful that an affirmative vote will happen very soon so we can get this great project moving forward. We thank the Senate and the House for their ongoing work and commitment to improve our great state.”

Pawtucket is an urban community with limited revenue growth potential without new development, said Grebien. The city needs the state to step up to support efforts to keep the team in Pawtucket and bring new economic development.

“The Ballpark at Slater Mill is the catalyst that Pawtucket, the Blackstone Valley and Rhode Island need to continue to move forward,” he said.

He said private developers can’t wait around forever, making it critical that the General Assembly act “prudently and expeditiously” to enact enabling legislation to move the stadium plan forward.

Comments

Let Churchill & Banks help the multi billonaire's pay for this NEW stadium ! Or is Churchill & Banks going to look for a FREE HAND OUT also ! What a JOKE this State is ! Let the owners of the PawSox pay for every cent of this project themselves ! KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT of MY POCKETS !