Carpionato gives a clue on stores at Narragansett Park Plaza

Carpionato gives a clue on stores at Narragansett Park Plaza

The latest plans for the Narragansett Park Plaza.

PAWTUCKET – Updating the Pawtucket City Council last week on their latest plans for the redevelopment of the Narragansett Park Plaza, representatives from Carpionato gave some clues as to the kind of tenants the city might see.

“If you track our developments and announcements, you’ll be able to, I think, come to your own conclusions about who our tenancy will be,” said Carpionato’s Kelly Coates.

Among the tenants announced at some of Carpionato’s recent projects, including redevelopments of former Benny’s locations, are Dave’s Marketplace, Dollar General, Ace Hardware, Harbor Freight and O’Reilly Auto Parts. The company is expected to have a grocery store tenant in the former Stop & Shop at Narragansett Park Plaza, but is not saying what store it will be.

“We pick guys and we run with them,” Coates told the City Council of Carpionato’s regular business partners.

Carpionato also partners with other grocers in its developments.

A representative for Dave’s said this week that the local grocery chain is not involved with the project at 674 Beverage Hill Ave. Asked about Dave’s on Sunday, Coates said there’s nothing to announce yet, but reiterated that the company likes to keep its partnerships consistent.

He told the council last week that the new Narragansett Park Plaza will be a “vibrant anchor to the street” and remains a “good mixed-use project,” despite some setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Developers are trying to create a place, he said, not repave a parking lot in a development that struggled.

Coates told the council that the company has invested $1.5 million in demolition and site work to date, saying the priority is to set the buildings in front to establish value toward the rear of the property. The goal overall is to “set the front edge of the property,” he said, including getting four front parcels landscaped and infrastructure completed and finalized.

Commerce Director Jeanne Boyle has helped make for a “very pleasant experience” on this project shared by Pawtucket and East Providence on the city line, he said. The developer has moved to the first phase of changing the intersection at the development, he said, and the next goal is to get signalization approved.

Coates said he expects infrastructure to be completed for the front four parcels by Sept. 1, 2021, but not all four buildings. A couple of existing tenants have been lost due to impacts of the pandemic, he said.

According to Coates, the company may have to take more risk on infrastructure without having buildings and leases in place. He said he’s not sure how much his board will allow to be spent without tenants signed.

Coates said his thinking has always been that if you “build it, they will come,” but that philosophy hasn’t quite worked out at a former Benny’s on Putnam Pike in Smithfield. He told the council that he’s been “stung” a bit on that project where spaces have been completed but tenants haven’t been secured for the “absolutely stunning” project.

COVID-19 certainly hit at the wrong time when it came to completing the redevelopment of Narragansett Park Plaza, said Coates, but his team is committed to doing a memorable project here and something everyone can be proud of.

Councilor Meghan Kallman asked about a plan B for the project if the pandemic roars back, and Coates responded that while the project would face more delays in such a circumstance, it wouldn’t be called off.

Both candidates for president will be interested in cranking up the economy if they win next month, he said, and he’s heard from experts in the hotel industry that they’re expecting business to take off like a rocket rather than a traditional takeoff pattern once vaccines are in place. Demand, he said, is “pent-up to come back.”

Asked by the council if Carpionato might shift more to a residential focus for the project as Fortuitous Partners has done with its riverfront project, Coates said that’s a possibility based on market trends. First priorities are infrastructure, tax treaties and roadway improvements, he said.

He told the council that the project is still looking strong, and an unintended but positive aspect of the pandemic is that Hasbro up the street probably isn’t looking to accelerate any moves out of the area.

Coates said he thinks the developer can achieve quite a bit between now and a planned update to the City Council a year from now. He pointed to a Carpionato development in Connecticut where the project was put on hold only to see construction costs decrease fairly dramatically. Limiting those costs will be key in Pawtucket because it’s not a high-income area, he said.

Trends are showing tenants leaving “questionable” areas and flocking to quality developments, said Coates, and he and his team are aiming for a quality development here.

The 25-acre Narragansett Park Plaza project, with 10.5 acres (and grocery store) located on the Pawtucket side of the city line and another 14.4 acres on the East Providence side, is one of the largest for the city in many years. The mixed-use lifestyle center has been described as Pawtucket’s version of Carpionato’s Chapel View in Cranston.

Carpionato was previously planning 118,770 square feet of office space, 72 residential units, 240,770 square feet of retail/restaurant space and one drive-thru restaurant. The company has completed new spaces for Taco Bell and T-Mobile.