Pawtucket riverfront project marches onward

Pawtucket riverfront project marches onward

PAWTUCKET – Representatives from Fortuitous Partners thanked the City Council after members last Friday agreed to a ground lease option agreement granting the company site control of riverfront properties so they can now show investors the viability of the project.

The agreement for the $400 million Tidewater Landing project adds up to a 50-year lease, at $1 per year, plus two options of 25 years apiece, for 100 total. In return for the control at 45 Division St. and the Tidewater north site across the river, Fortuitous agrees to develop a soccer stadium, indoor sports center, hotel, market rate and affordable housing, and office and retail commercial uses. The company is also planning a pedestrian bridge across the Seekonk River.

The council last Friday also gave a second and final vote to allow extending the lease beyond 10 years. Both votes were unanimous and came with no discussion.

“Fortuitous Partners extends our sincere appreciation to the Pawtucket City Council for their diligent and prompt review of the lease option agreement for Tidewater Landing,” said the company in a statement after the vote. “We thank them for their ongoing partnership and hard work. Memorializing site control positions us to move forward to the next stages of the approval process. More importantly, it moves the city of Pawtucket, the Blackstone Valley and the state of Rhode Island that much closer to making this historic opportunity a reality.”

Also last week, the Rhode Island Commerce Corp. agreed to extend the exclusivity period with Fortuitous Partners to Sept. 15 “based on the significant and continued progress made by Fortuitous, and other parties, on the project in meeting project milestones, despite the global pandemic.”

Much of the money the city and state will receive back from this project will be in new taxes generated by the development itself and the Tax Incremental Financing district around it. No taxes will be paid on the land itself.

“Tidewater Landing will transform Pawtucket for decades to come. We are truly grateful of the members of the City Council for once again demonstrating leadership and focus on this vital project for our city and residents,” said Mayor Donald Grebien in a statement. “Their approval of the ground lease option agreement with Fortuitous is a vital step in continuing to move this project forward with the goal of kicking the ball in 2022.”

The city has long understood the need to develop the underutilized riverfront, said the mayor.

“For decades, the city has tried to bring activity to this area with the goal of making it an epicenter for regional activity,” he said. “Here, alongside the state and Fortuitous, the opportunity is here. We know there is much more work to do, and we are more ready than ever to keep moving forward for the future of Pawtucket.”

Wilder Arboleda, spokesman for Grebien, said this land has been underutilized for far too long, and Tidewater Landing will bring the sites to life for city residents and all Rhode Islanders.

The lease agreement is similar to ones done in the past and similar to one in 2004, said Arboleda. The difference is that the city now has a true partnership with the developer and the state. Both the Opportunity Zones and the TIF district enable Tidewater Landing to be successful. All improvements and property located on the site will be subject to real estate or tangible property tax.

“This tax would not exist other than for this project. It pays for itself,” he said.