Development projects in Pawtucket receive brownfields grants

Development projects in Pawtucket receive brownfields grants

Leland Peyser, of Peyser Real Estate Group, explains the specifics on the planned Dexter Street Commons on Dexter Street in October. The project just received a $400,000 brownfields grant from the Department of Environmental Management. 

PAWTUCKET – Two developments in Pawtucket have received brownfields grants from the state, which will aid in site preparation at Tidewater Landing, the proposed riverfront project, as well as redevelopment for the Dexter Street Commons near the coming train station.

“On behalf of the city of Pawtucket, I thank Gov. (Gina) Raimondo and RIDEM … for providing some of the necessary funds to remediate sites throughout our city,” Mayor Donald Grebien said. “Tidewater Landing and Dexter Street Commons are catalysts for the transformation of Pawtucket for years to come, and we are grateful for the state’s continued support and collaboration.”

Brownfields are polluted industrial sites, and their remediation and reuse lessens “threats to public health and the environment from exposure to uncontrolled contamination,” states a release. It also creates jobs, revitalizes neighborhoods, and increases the community tax base.

The Department of Environmental Management and Raimondo awarded a $190,000 grant for site preparation at Tidewater Landing, 45 Division St., as well as a $195,000 grant for site preparation at 0 Taft St., as part of the same project to develop a new soccer stadium complex, housing, a hotel, commercial space, a riverwalk, and a new pedestrian bridge by Fortuitous Partners on currently underutilized land along the Seekonk River.

“These grants will allow us to identify and plan for any environmental remediation that may be required for waterfront property that has sat vacant for decades,” said Brett Johnson, founder of Fortuitous Partners, adding that he’s grateful to the city of Pawtucket and RIDEM.

The $190,000 grant for 45 Division St. and the $195,000 grant for 0 Taft St. will both pay for remaining site assessment work, updated Phase I environmental site assessments, and will finalize remedial action work plans for the former Tidewater Landing.

Johnson told The Breeze that the grants will be used to more precisely document potential contamination of the site from historical use of the properties dating back to 1800.

“In addition, the grants will fund remedial planning, design and permitting costs that may be required,” he said. “The cost for environmental remediation is typically a roadblock to redevelopment projects such as Tidewater Landing.”

While much of the city’s waterfront has been unused for decades, Johnson said that “remediating this valuable land and opening for public use will be an incredible asset for the community” and will rejuvenate the area. The entire redevelopment, he added, will create more than 1,000 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs as well as millions in new tax revenue and “tremendous waterfront amenities.”

Environmental testing on the properties will begin immediately, Johnson noted, followed by the planning, design and permitting work. He said the plan is to begin construction in the latter part of 2021.

Another recipient of a brownfields grant, Peyser Real Estate Group, the developer of Dexter Street Commons, 71 Dexter St., received $400,000 for its mixed-use redevelopment near the in-progress Pawtucket/Central Falls commuter rail station in the Conant Thread District. The $43 million project, one of the first redevelopments related to the train station, includes 150 apartments and 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, which may include a restaurant, coffee shop, market store, bank, retail store and fitness center. The development, located at the site of the former Tarpy’s Meats and Cala Fruit property, is expected to be completed in 2022 and will create 100 construction jobs and 60 permanent jobs.

Lee Peyser, founder and CEO of Peyser Real Estate Group, said the funds will help address the expensive environmental cleanup for the blighted property, which is in an environmental justice area, and “are crucial in helping us to mitigate the development risk associated with attracting outside investment required for urban redevelopment projects. You can budget all you want, but never know what you’re going to find until you get into the actual work.”

The grant will go toward asbestos abatement, demolition of the existing building, excavation and removal of contaminated soil, and other remediation work, he said.

“A project like this is about renewal, about taking a blighted sight, cleaning it up, creating places to live that will become people’s homes, and giving the community of Pawtucket a real asset toward its ambitious redevelopment goals,” he said.

On Monday Peyser said he anticipates final sign-offs on the remedial action work plan to happen very soon, and, weather permitting, hopes to start the remediation work by the end of the year and have the abatement, demolition, excavation, and removal work done and be ready to go vertical by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Everyone he’s worked with on the economic development side in the state and city of Pawtucket “has been terrific,” Peyser said. “Everyone is rowing in the same direction. I can’t tell you how much that means for large-scale urban redevelopment projects.”

The funding, he added, demonstrates the collective commitment to Pawtucket. “We believe in Pawtucket, and with Dexter Street Commons, we look forward to getting cranes in the air and cars off the road,” he said.

DEM awarded $3.26 million in matching grants under the Brownfields Remediation and Economic Development Fund to 13 projects across seven cities and towns, made possible by the 2018 Green Economy Bond, according to a press release. In addition to Pawtucket, other communities include Central Falls, Scituate, Woonsocket, Providence, Richmond, and West Warwick.

“These grant awards are particularly well-timed to help stimulate our economy, putting Rhode Islanders back to work on shovel-ready projects,” Raimondo said.