Apex property price appears too high for PawSox

Apex property price appears too high for PawSox

A city rendering of the Tidewater site on the Seekonk River.

PAWTUCKET – The owners of the Apex site on the downtown riverfront are said to be asking for far more money from the Pawtucket Red Sox than the team’s owners are willing to spend on the new stadium property, according to two city sources.

Owner Andrew Gates is seeking more than $20 million for his property, said the sources, who asked to remain anonymous. Team officials aren’t confirming that number or saying what they’re willing to spend.

PawSox officials are still focused on Apex as their top priority, said the sources, confirming assertions from Mayor Donald Grebien. With talks on a deal stalled for now, however, they’re looking more intently at other options for a potential new stadium, including the Tidewater site diagonally across the Seekonk River from Apex.

PawSox team officials this week declined to comment on their negotiations with Gates and his team, or to say what their next option might be. They have repeatedly stated that they’re committed to Pawtucket as a long-term home for the franchise.

Apex owners weren’t confirming the reported asking price.

“Apex Development Company has had numerous conversations with the Pawtucket Red Sox ownership group about the use of a portion of our property near downtown as a potential location for the team’s new ballpark,” said the company in an emailed statement. “The Apex Companies, founded in Rhode Island in 1924 and as members of the Pawtucket community since the 1930s, are pleased the Pawtucket Red Sox are focused on staying in Pawtucket. As these conversations are ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.”

The site of the Apex Department Store, with its iconic tiered roof visible to drivers passing on I-95, is valued at $4.3 million in the city’s property tax database. Adjoining properties owned by Gates and his affiliated companies, which would all likely be included in any sort of stadium proposal, total an additional combined value of more than $1 million.

Apex remains open for business, though few cars are ever seen in the parking lot.

Grebien said Monday that city officials aren’t involved in discussions between Apex and the PawSox.

“The Apex site has and continues to be important to economic development in the downtown area,” said Grebien in a statement. “(An) overlay district, created to better market the parcel, has the benefit of the planned commuter rail station, the Isle Brewers Guild, Pet Food Experts, Slater Mill, and a national park.

“The city is always looking at ways to further the growth of our downtown,” he added. “A ballpark at this location would only enhance that.”

The Tidewater property, substantially larger than the Apex site at more than 16 acres, still needs substantial cleanup of underground pollutants. About 11 acres of the property is owned by National Grid, and another 5.4 acres is owned by Pawtucket.

The Apex site covers more than 10 acres and is closer to Slater Mill and City Hall than the Tidewater site. City officials have prior redevelopment plans for the Tidewater site, but nothing is firmly in place yet. It is located across the river from the site of a planned development by the Peregrine Group and the redeveloped Festival Pier, a riverfront park.

Grebien said again on WPRI’s Newsmakers last week that the Apex location is the primary target for a new stadium, while Tidewater is also on the team’s radar as an alternative site suggested by city officials.

Grebien also didn’t rule out the Red Sox minor league affiliate staying at its current site off Columbus Avenue, though he said it appears, looking at the situation from a “purely business perspective” in light of a new study on the stadium, that the team might need to move on from that location.

A study released in January shows that the PawSox would likely need to spend $68 million to renovate the existing McCoy Stadium, or $78 million to build a new stadium, not including a parking structure and commercial space.

From the 1880s through about the 1970s, a manufactured gas plant and electric generation facility operated at the end of Merry and Tidewater streets, right on the Seekonk River. The Tidewater plant used industrial processes to produce gas from coal and oil.

Manufactured gas plants were common before the region’s natural gas pipelines were built. The gas production process often produced such pollutants as tar, sludge, and oil.

The Tidewater facility used coal, oil, tar and other substances to produce electricity. The gas manufacturing ended in 1968, while electric generating operations ended in 1975.

National Grid acquired the property in 2006 and is responsible for the cleanup of the site. The energy giant continues to operate a natural gas regulating and interchange station and an electrical substation and switch house on the site.

The Breeze reported two years ago on the city’s three-phase redevelopment plan for the Tidewater site, including:

• A cleanup of 11 acres of National Grid property and 5.4 acres of city land.

• A search for a developer for the city section of the property, with possible apartments.

• And targeted development of the National Grid side of the property, with more housing and park space.

Comments

If they want to leave the city,fine with me. It's not going to benefit the home owner. It surely won't lower my taxes. Maybe they can do better in another city. Does any other city want them?

Could this be a case of I see deep pockets coming

Their was a small chance the pawsox would have moved there,no chance now.

If the owner of the Apex property thinks that it's worth $20 million, then the city should tax him at that rate.

I knew Apex would see this opportunity with an unrealistic perspective.