PAWTUCKET – The City Planning Commission last week awarded preliminary plan approval to the new construction portion of the St. Edward Church residential redevelopment project last week, subject to some conditions.

Assistant Director of Planning Jay Rosa said the conditions make it subject to Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management stormwater permitting and some sidewalk and fire lane modifications needing approval from the Department of Public Works.

There were no real concerns from the Planning Commission at the Sept. 21 meeting, said Rosa, but some residents of nearby Florence Street showed up to express some concerns about there being adequate fencing and landscaping for the project, though they were supportive overall.

The conversion of the existing church complex, including church and rectory, and former Woodlawn Catholic Regional School at 396 Weeden St., was previously approved by Zoning, said Rosa, but Planning Commission approval was necessary for the three-story new construction building across the street, which will have 20 market-rate apartments.

“Anytime there’s a rehab of a historic structure, and quickly after it was decommissioned, that’s obviously a good sign for not having structures deteriorate or be vacant,” he said, noting that the developers have lots of previous success in the city, including with the restoration of the Slater Cotton Mill and Church Hill Grammar School. This type of work is their focus, he said, and fits with the neighborhood in terms of size, scale, and traffic pattern, “so we’re certainly excited about it.”

The Planning Commission granted more conceptual master plan approval in mid-August. The final approval stage will focus on perfecting what is to be constructed.

Tyler Langlois, who’s developing the project bringing a total of 60 market-rate apartments on both sides of Weeden Street with Chris Starr, previously told The Breeze the entire project is meant to act as a sort of campus, with special and unique features. Apartments will vary between less than 1,000 square feet and 2,000 square feet.

The former St. Edward Church was closed in 2017 due to expensive fire code issues and dwindling attendance, three years after it was merged with St. Mary’s Church to share resources. The board of directors of Woodlawn Catholic Regional School closed the adjoining school in June of 2019 based on low enrollment projections.

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