A rendering of the Conant Thread District

PAWTUCKET – Four Pawtucket projects have started, progressed, or been completed within the Conant Thread District around the coming Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station since the district was established in May of 2019.

According to Emily Rizzo, spokeswoman for Mayor Donald Grebien’s office, Pawtucket has been in constant contact with Central Falls as they work together on developing the Conant Thread District in advance of a station opening next year.

Pawtucket and Central Falls formed a Joint Planning Commission to ensure both cities are consistent and follow restrictions within the district, said Rizzo, and the cities are working together to bring about the best possible result.

Here are the four Pawtucket projects since 2019:

• At 81 Park Place, the Church Hill Grammar School has been completed;

• At 390 Pine St., the new Shri Yoga is under construction;

• New construction of 71 Dexter St., the Dexter Commons, is proposed;

• And at 327 Pine St., 47 units in a phase one rehab are proposed and 135 units in phase two new construction are also proposed.

Rhode Island Department of Transportation Chief of Public Affairs Charles St. Martin said that the Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station and Bus Hub is on budget and on schedule for opening next summer.

“Over the past month at this project, we have installed the Barton Street sidewalk and the structural steel at the northbound tower, completed the retaining wall at the northbound platform, started prep and installation of the elevator shaft, and set the pedestrian bridges over the freight and Northeast corridor tracks,” Martin said.

The Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station and Bus Hub is being built in a collaborative partnership including the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, the city of Pawtucket, and the City of Central Falls. The budget for this project stands at $47 million.

The founder and executive director of Shri Studio, Alison Bologna, said they are closing in on their funding goals after COVID and plan to start construction in January, with plans of completing the renovation late next year.

“It is an old historic building and with it comes many challenges, but we are making progress,” Bologna said. “We have received phenomenal support from private corporations, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and the community.”

Bologna said Shri Studio is right on the line of Pawtucket and Central Falls. Because of this, the studio serves many residents and organizations in both cities.

“The cities work great together; Central Falls’s mayor, Maria Rivera, came and toured with Mayor Grebien, and both mayors have a great relationship together,” Bologna said. “Mayor Rivera was really great and she was really happy to see what was happening with the space.”

Bologna said Pawtucket and Central Falls have been very cooperative on the project and with Shri raising more funds than originally planned due to the cost of goods increasing after the start of the pandemic.

“It’s been a combination of Central Falls and Pawtucket finding resources and working non-stop to fill this gap,” Bologna said. “Every developer will tell you how much the prices of goods and services have increased from the pandemic.”

With COVID-19, Shri Studio’s renovation costs increased by 30 percent. To raise the additional funds needed for renovations, Shri Studio put up a giving wall at the entrance of the building to promote funding and let people show their support.

“We have already raised $26,000, which will be going toward our budget,” Bologna said. “All of it will be going to support the outreach programs we do.”

Shri Studio’s design plans call for two practice studios, two treatment rooms, gender-neutral bathrooms, changing rooms, staff rooms, a board room and an inclusive and welcoming lobby to host all kinds of new community-building events with an already completed parking lot that accommodates 40 vehicles.

In addition, there will be eight apartments on one of the top floors. Five of these apartments will be affordable housing units.

Shri Studios recently completed environmental work, some of which included abatement of all lead paint and asbestos.

Bologna said that one of her passions is designing spaces and preserving the old while bringing in new aspects to make it a safe space. She said that while the spaces will be refurbished for a new center to serve students, there will also be a museum in the building to show people what the space was like prior to updating it.

Bologna said there are plans for art installations and murals to also be implemented in the space when it is redone to engage the community.

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