Brodie: Project is win for Conant Thread district

Brodie: Project is win for Conant Thread district

The Joint Planning Commission, a unique and highly collaborative Pawtucket/Central Falls review board, heard and approved on a master plan level their first project in the Conant Thread district two weeks ago.

The Peyser Real Estate Group’s project represents so much of the economic development the two cities have been hoping for with the advent of the commuter rail stop, including jobs, new residents, increased tax revenue and the transformation of a highly visible, long vacant property. And, it is brought to us from a very highly regarded out-of-state developer/investor, who invests in projects within the context of the community to which they will belong and whose projects look beyond their property line in a true public private partnership.

Conant Thread is a district within an urban fabric. It is not any one project, and its geographic outline is permeable. Its vision reflects the city and the northeast region it sits in, as a mixture of uses, of incomes, of ages, of day and night activity, of people – walking, biking, taking the train or bus to work and to entertainment.

The district and the area now include old and new commercial spaces, and adaptive reuse of old mills for a mixture of rents at and below market rate. It has proposals for maker spaces and live/work roughly finished start up business and living spaces.

What it doesn’t have is that higher income tier that includes new construction of housing that will benefit from the successes of our neighboring states. We need to grow our population and grow awareness of Pawtucket and Central Falls’ assets and potential. More people with more disposable income will support the restaurants and small businesses of the two cities and the awareness beyond the state line increases demand for the thousands of square feet of small and medium size spaces and buildings in our downtowns.

At first glance, an early project that is for higher income residents might make some nervous that Conant Thread will benefit newcomers, not those who live and work here now. But people spend money where they live, so let’s encourage them to spend it here.

Bringing a strong reputation for both quality and community, this developer and the JPC’s first project is a win for Conant Thread.

Jan Brodie

Executive Director

The Pawtucket Foundation