PAWTUCKET – Representatives from Fortuitous Partners, the developer behind a new soccer stadium on the Seekonk River, are planning a 30-space parking lot as a destination for people who want to use a new Riverwalk there.
The walk/bikeway segment, though required as part of approvals for the project, is a very exciting component and will go a long way toward achieving the goal of making the riverfront a place where people want to come and enjoy themselves, Dan Kroeber, managing partner for Fortuitous Partners, told City Council members last week.
Kroeber, giving updates on the project and detailing the company’s request for a 20-year tax stabilization agreement on the stadium part of the project, said the project is moving through a lot of its permitting and design work, with construction set to start early in the new year.
National Grid is doing cleanup work on the site, he said, and the company is preparing it in earnest for construction to begin.
“A stadium is not an easy feat to privately finance, a stadium of this magnitude,” said Kroeber at the Nov. 23 meeting. “We’re building a very significant stadium. It will be, as we tell everyone we talk to, the epicenter of entertainment and sports in all of Rhode Island and even broader northern New England area.”
The City Council’s finance subcommittee, on a motion by Councilor Mike Araujo, unanimously approved the 20-year tax stabilization agreement on the property. The council also approved a resolution approving an easement with the Coastal Resources Management Council to allow upgrades to the riverfront off Taft Street.
The stadium project, with ancillary development starting later next year, will have an incredible economic impact with the stadium as anchor, he said. It’s important, he said, to show that the developers have the revenue needed “to take on a whole bunch of debt.”
Councilor Mark Wildenhain asked when ancillary development will start, and Kroeber said he expects it about nine months after breaking ground.
The stadium will be used for numerous purposes, he said, including concerts, weddings and other events.
The initial phase will include the 30-space lot at the trailhead of the new Riverwalk, and another 200-space lot for day-to-day staff and VIP parking, among other uses.
The lot and walkway will bring the connection to the riverfront that people have so long desired, said Kroeber.
Assistant Director of Planning and Redevelopment Jay Rosa said this new riverfront segment, already under construction, is part of the larger plan to create a bikeway through the entire state, one segment at a time.
Kroeber said the developers want to create the ultimate recreational amenity as they revitalize the riverfront and make it an attraction for people from the city, state, and region as they come to Pawtucket.
Planned are such amenities as a tiered amphitheater and lower boardwalk, all part of an interconnected area everyone can be proud of, said Kroeber. The same improvements will be done on the School Street side of the river.
“We want both sides of the river to be gorgeous,” he said, connected by a future pedestrial bridge.
Araujo said he loves the addition of the 30 spots to make this more of a destination.
Kroeber said he and other developers are really excited about the potential for this project, despite the bumps and bruises they’ve experienced during planning through a pandemic. He said there’s already been huge improvement in the area, including a portion of the new Riverwalk.
The new stadium is expected to be open in time for the 2023 soccer season, which starts in March and runs through November. Worst-case scenario, those early games will be played on the road, said Kroeber.
Araujo said he’s also excited about the many other plans for the stadium aside from soccer, including a potential skating rink and winter lights festival. He said he envisions this area being an attraction similar to Bryant Park in New York.