PAWTUCKET – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s purchase of about 6 more acres of property near an in-progress new commuter rail station will more than adequately address any parking concerns here.
City and state officials this week confirmed the purchase by RIDOT from First National Development. Industry standards say that nearly 250 parking spots can fit on 1 acre of land, so the space here allows more than 1,000 spaces, well over what is needed.
Director of Commerce Jeanne Boyle said the land is at the corner of Pine Street and Goff Avenue. RIDOT had previously acquired about 2 acres from the same lot for the development of the commuter rail/transit hub, she said.
Charles St. Martin, spokesman for RIDOT, said this purchase will be adequate for parking needs at the train station “on day one of its operation next summer.” The project is in design, he said, so the exact area hasn’t been determined yet, but it will take between 2 and 3 acres of the 6-acre parcel.
“The parcel will provide space for future expansion if necessary,” he said.
Asked about a price, St. Martin said RIDOT is following condemnation procedures and had the property appraised, he said, and a payment for that work was disbursed to the owner.
“Negotiations with the owner on final settlement are ongoing,” he said. “The appraisal and final cost will be publicly available once the transaction is complete.”
Design work on the parking is started, he said, and construction will start in the spring to be ready for summer service.
According to city property records, RIDOT officially acquired the triangle-shaped property at 280 Pine St. on Sept. 15, though it doesn’t list a purchase price. First National, or Beaufoy Development, purchased it for $1.5 million in 2017, according to the records.
The property is assessed for tax purposes at $952,000.
The Breeze reported in 2016 that First National representatives were planning a major mixed-use development next to the station at 280 Pine St., which seems to be off the table with this land sale. Planning Director Sue Mara said there hasn’t been any further action on that project.
"The previous development plan will not be feasible on the current lot as the entity which proposed the development no longer owns the property," she said. "The lot has been acquired in its entirety by RIDOT to provide station parking."
First National is also completing multiple mill redevelopment projects near the station, making it in the company’s best interest to resolve parking issues here and make the station as functional as possible.
Boyle said for a story last week that officials were planning for 200 parking spaces on day one of the train station being open, with another 200 spaces coming online at a later date.