SMITHFIELD – Club 44 is no more as of last Friday after construction crews razed the old-time vacant restaurant to make way for the entrance of a new development.
The site, located at 355 Putnam Pike, is slated to be the entrance of a proposed mixed-use development, Smithfield Village, on 27 acres behind the former club.
Demolition of Club 44 is integral to the development of Smithfield Village, as it will serve as a primary entrance.
Different plans came before the Planning Board in April from Sunn Builders for another development at 272 Putnam Pike, which proposes several retail businesses, a car wash and connecting residential units in Johnston.
With Club 44 gone, the entrance would share a light with the Sunn Builders development across the road in an effort to lessen traffic congestion, which is sure to pile up in this area no matter what with Smithfield Crossing just up the road.
During a January meeting, the Planning Board told Smithfield Village developers to demolish Club 44 in a timely manner. Board member Kenneth Orabona said the sooner the building came down, the better, calling the building “unsecured, unoccupied and definitely a hazard.”
Attorney Joelle Rocha, who represents owners Churchill and Banks and Stop & Shop, said in January that demolition would happen soon, mentioning asbestos being present at the site and adding to the timeline for safe demolition.
Plans for Smithfield Village were revived nearly 20 years after they were first proposed, one of the latest iterations calling for 124 residential units with 25 low-to-moderate-income housing units and a hotel.
Plans were put on hold in January when developers asked for a second one-year extension for the project’s development due to a lack of franchisee for the proposed hotel. Rocha added that the development is looking for new owners, which would likely mean more changes for Smithfield Village.
The project has faced some opposition from neighbors and Planning Board members concerned that the residential units would create traffic issues at the already busy intersection where Route 44 meets Esmond Street just past the ramps for I-295.
Developers proposed widening the turn onto Esmond Street off Route 44 to two lanes.
On the town’s SeeClickFix app, where residents can suggest locations in need of repair, resident J. Moretti in 2020 called Club 44 an eyesore that was overgrown with vegetation. Moretti said the town should mandate the property be cleaned up by the owner or hire someone to do it. The owner was notified and subsequently cleaned up the property.
Thankfully my classmate, Calvin Gaudet, has gone to be with the Lord and won’t have to worry about the plans for his former business, Club 44.
I guess I will be staying out of that end of town
I'm not down with this. Two words. Traffic nightmare. It's already bad enough traffic-wise. If I can vote against this, I will.
I certainly agree with you. Rt 44 is already backed up with traffic all day long now. I remember when I moved to Smithfield 20 years ago, the traffic was comfortable. The Greystone bridge closure has caused Esmond St and Waterman Ave to become a nightmare, a real nuisance. Now they want to add an additional traffic lights on 44 and expand Esmond St which again is going to cause the residents of both Esmond and Waterman now to deal with more traffic and bottlenecks in the area. It's bad enough that we have to deal with semi trucks using the side streets, but now those who are taking the shortcuts are now speeding down Esmond and Waterman going more than 60mph. I used to see N. Providence and Smithfield Police in the area, but not in the last 7 months. Just as I was typing this response a car just drove down Waterman going 75mph and not an office in sight. This is what we in the area are dealing with now, and can you imagine what's going to happen when those new traffic lights go up? The Towns of Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston and Greenville are not made to handle any addditional traffic.
How expensive is it to purchase a radar gun? You must have one to know the car was doing 75 mph
Welcome to the discussion.
Comments that will be deleted include:
What we at The Breeze would truly like to see are comments that add history and context to a story or that use criticism constructively.