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DBM

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There's no ROW available. The Warren Branch is obliterated after the state line by the entire Ocean Grove neighborhood of Swansea that built over it post-abandonment. And any/all attempts to try to find a graft-on trajectory to I-195 become an exercise in futility with all the wetlands, ocean inlets, and wretched insertion-angle geometry to contend with. Of all the Crazy Transit Pitches wishlist items that can be quantified with some tangible demand, this may be the most real-world physically impossible of the whole lot. Which is really saying something given the proposals we regularly toss around here. 😞


Unfortunately when the line was in-service it was handicapped by the extreme weight-restricted rail upper deck of the Slades Ferry Bridge, which could only take the wood-bodied ultralight interurban-like EMU's that the Old Colony ran captive to East Providence electric territory and not any type of standard RR equipment. All the steam trains hauling New York weekenders to Newport had to go the long way Providence-Attleboro-Taunton-Fall River, and no freight could ever cross the bridge. It was basically relegated to "the last unicorn" status of the whole pan-NYNH&H system equipment-wise, propped up through the 1920's only by pretty strong ridership. When the Great Depression wiped out the railroad's finances and hit ridership hard they had to immediately curtail the commuter-oriented EMU service to save money, leaving literal zero other traffic they were capable of running that way. With no excuse to keep the line open, it was immediately torn up. Had the bridge been able to take something/anything of standard car weight they would've easily been able to justify keeping it open because the NY-Newport trains would still be running through the late-50's and would save loads of time this way instead of the around-the-horn routing, while many freight routings could've been consolidated out that way providing further justification for its continued existence. Alas, no one had money to replace that flimsy bridge with something better until the failing road deck got condemned in 1970 and the state demolished the whole thing for scrap sans any planned replacement. The bridge was at the rotary-to-nowhere on MA 103 a stone's throw south of the now-derelict Brightman St. bridge, and connected on the Fall River side at the Remington Ave. dead-end. Excess retaining wall weirdness on Pearce St. behind the strip mall on Davol tips off where the Warren Branch met the Newport main at the old station entrance to Fall River Depot.

It doesn't help either that the Old Colony never filled the 3800 ft. gap separating the Newport main downtown from the stub end of the Wattupa Branch @ Plymouth Ave. precluding any direct thru-route connection to New Bedford, and that by the time the I-195 canyon and New City Hall air rights went into design in the late-50's the RR was too cosmically broke and eager to dump the Old Colony commuter rail lines that it didn't/couldn't make any design stand for a ROW reservation in the new expressway cut completing the missing link at long last (if for no other reason than freight-usefulness). By the time the first short segment of 195 opened downtown in '63 commuter rail to the South Coast had already been gone 5 years.

---- ---- ---- ----

In a parallel universe where the Slades Ferry Bridge wasn't such an achilles heel, you'd probably see the South Coast rail lines consolidated into something more like this:
  • fully preserved Warren Branch, and even if the East Providence tunnel still closed in '81 all the same at least some east-side freight out of Pawtucket still coming that way.
  • a Wattupa Branch that fully spanned the whole way from Fall River to New Bedford, acting as primary freight lane between both ports to this day.
  • a different Depression-era consolidation of the routes from Boston. As is, the Somerset Branch (a.k.a. south extension of the Stoughton Line straight out of Taunton) got truncated despite originally being the preferred passenger route so they could save coin retiring the Mallard Point drawbridge. Traffic got re-routed further east onto the *current* Fall River Branch (a.k.a. ex- Lakeville Branch) through barren Freetown State Forest at slight schedule penalty but much much easier maint costs and no drawbridges. Somerset Branch is full MassDOT-landbanked to within 1 mile of Mallard Point because it stayed in various states of use/semi-disuse until the 1980's, but the mile to the old draw is completely and utterly obliterated by rich housing. In the parallel universe where the Warren Branch stayed and crossed a newer/better bridge, they would've seen fit to re-route the Somerset Branch west of Somerset Reservoir for a few miles through (then) farmland along Route 138 to junction with the Warren Branch at a consolidated crossing. That is: all Boston OR Providence traffic crosses the river at the same place, and service to New Bedford vs. Newport branches at Fall River Depot dead-center downtown instead of way the hell out in Myricks.
  • Lakeville Branch (current route) in the forest between Myricks and FR Depot gets abandoned instead. New Bedford Branch (a.k.a. Old Colony mainline to Lowell) north of the airport probably stays after the dust settles as a secondary freight connector for the still present-day critical yards at Framingham and Middleboro...but never catches a whiff of passenger interest ever again because the FR Depot hub + Wattupa Branch are so much superior for pooling/distributing.
We don't live in a parallel universe, however, so all these pegs knocked out between 1938-1958 are utterly, totally nuked of any possibility of reconnection.
Thank you, as always, very helpful summary!
 

jbray

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There's no ROW available. The Warren Branch is obliterated after the state line by the entire Ocean Grove neighborhood of Swansea that built over it post-abandonment. And any/all attempts to try to find a graft-on trajectory to I-195 become an exercise in futility with all the wetlands, ocean inlets, and wretched insertion-angle geometry to contend with. Of all the Crazy Transit Pitches wishlist items that can be quantified with some tangible demand, this may be the most real-world physically impossible of the whole lot. Which is really saying something given the proposals we regularly toss around here. 😞


Unfortunately when the line was in-service it was handicapped by the extreme weight-restricted rail upper deck of the Slades Ferry Bridge, which could only take the wood-bodied ultralight interurban-like EMU's that the Old Colony ran captive to East Providence electric territory and not any type of standard RR equipment. All the steam trains hauling New York weekenders to Newport had to go the long way Providence-Attleboro-Taunton-Fall River, and no freight could ever cross the bridge. It was basically relegated to "the last unicorn" status of the whole pan-NYNH&H system equipment-wise, propped up through the 1920's only by pretty strong ridership. When the Great Depression wiped out the railroad's finances and hit ridership hard they had to immediately curtail the commuter-oriented EMU service to save money, leaving literal zero other traffic they were capable of running that way. With no excuse to keep the line open, it was immediately torn up. Had the bridge been able to take something/anything of standard car weight they would've easily been able to justify keeping it open because the NY-Newport trains would still be running through the late-50's and would save loads of time this way instead of the around-the-horn routing, while many freight routings could've been consolidated out that way providing further justification for its continued existence. Alas, no one had money to replace that flimsy bridge with something better until the failing road deck got condemned in 1970 and the state demolished the whole thing for scrap sans any planned replacement. The bridge was at the rotary-to-nowhere on MA 103 a stone's throw south of the now-derelict Brightman St. bridge, and connected on the Fall River side at the Remington Ave. dead-end. Excess retaining wall weirdness on Pearce St. behind the strip mall on Davol tips off where the Warren Branch met the Newport main at the old station entrance to Fall River Depot.

It doesn't help either that the Old Colony never filled the 3800 ft. gap separating the Newport main downtown from the stub end of the Wattupa Branch @ Plymouth Ave. precluding any direct thru-route connection to New Bedford, and that by the time the I-195 canyon and New City Hall air rights went into design in the late-50's the RR was too cosmically broke and eager to dump the Old Colony commuter rail lines that it didn't/couldn't make any design stand for a ROW reservation in the new expressway cut completing the missing link at long last (if for no other reason than freight-usefulness). By the time the first short segment of 195 opened downtown in '63 commuter rail to the South Coast had already been gone 5 years.

---- ---- ---- ----

In a parallel universe where the Slades Ferry Bridge wasn't such an achilles heel, you'd probably see the South Coast rail lines consolidated into something more like this:
  • fully preserved Warren Branch, and even if the East Providence tunnel still closed in '81 all the same at least some east-side freight out of Pawtucket still coming that way.
  • a Wattupa Branch that fully spanned the whole way from Fall River to New Bedford, acting as primary freight lane between both ports to this day.
  • a different Depression-era consolidation of the routes from Boston. As is, the Somerset Branch (a.k.a. south extension of the Stoughton Line straight out of Taunton) got truncated despite originally being the preferred passenger route so they could save coin retiring the Mallard Point drawbridge. Traffic got re-routed further east onto the *current* Fall River Branch (a.k.a. ex- Lakeville Branch) through barren Freetown State Forest at slight schedule penalty but much much easier maint costs and no drawbridges. Somerset Branch is full MassDOT-landbanked to within 1 mile of Mallard Point because it stayed in various states of use/semi-disuse until the 1980's, but the mile to the old draw is completely and utterly obliterated by rich housing. In the parallel universe where the Warren Branch stayed and crossed a newer/better bridge, they would've seen fit to re-route the Somerset Branch west of Somerset Reservoir for a few miles through (then) farmland along Route 138 to junction with the Warren Branch at a consolidated crossing. That is: all Boston OR Providence traffic crosses the river at the same place, and service to New Bedford vs. Newport branches at Fall River Depot dead-center downtown instead of way the hell out in Myricks.
  • Lakeville Branch (current route) in the forest between Myricks and FR Depot gets abandoned instead. New Bedford Branch (a.k.a. Old Colony mainline to Lowell) north of the airport probably stays after the dust settles as a secondary freight connector for the still present-day critical yards at Framingham and Middleboro...but never catches a whiff of passenger interest ever again because the FR Depot hub + Wattupa Branch are so much superior for pooling/distributing.
We don't live in a parallel universe, however, so all these pegs knocked out between 1938-1958 are utterly, totally nuked of any possibility of reconnection.
Am I not looking at the right of way being blocked by two homes and a cul-de-sac on Ronald Rd in Ocean Grove? I understand that eminent domain is a difficult decision (personally and politically), but you had me believing the entire neighborhood was in the way. What am I missing here F-line?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Am I not looking at the right of way being blocked by two homes and a cul-de-sac on Ronald Rd in Ocean Grove? I understand that eminent domain is a difficult decision (personally and politically), but you had me believing the entire neighborhood was in the way. What am I missing here F-line?
In this case it is every single parcel from the state line to Taunton River that has lapsed property lines, so there is no "ROW" anymore. Close physical encroachers are only a fraction of the issue as it's several hundred individual property owners who would have to be dealt with. Including, at Ocean Grove, all NON-encroaching adjacent property owners.

Put it this way: the whole of 195 in MA was built with less eminent domaining 55 years ago than the much shorter-mileage Warren Branch would require today. Mostly because sticking closer to the inlets/wetlands than the population density substantially consolidated the number of total property owners they had to deal with. No such luck here.
 

MjolnirMan

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According to GoLocalProv, the Providence Arcade (oldest indoor mall in America, current home to a handful of retail/dining tenants on the first floor and micro-loft rentals on the upper levels) is going completely condo, including the retail locations.
Both the first floor retail spaces, as well as the second and third-floor micro-lofts, will go condo this year.
Micro-lofts will start at $130,000 to $140,000 -- there are 48 units.
And retail spaces will start at $125,000 per unit -- there are approximately 20 units.
Photos of the current lofts and mall at NCA and CNU.
 

DBM

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In this case it is every single parcel from the state line to Taunton River that has lapsed property lines, so there is no "ROW" anymore. Close physical encroachers are only a fraction of the issue as it's several hundred individual property owners who would have to be dealt with. Including, at Ocean Grove, all NON-encroaching adjacent property owners.

Put it this way: the whole of 195 in MA was built with less eminent domaining 55 years ago than the much shorter-mileage Warren Branch would require today. Mostly because sticking closer to the inlets/wetlands than the population density substantially consolidated the number of total property owners they had to deal with. No such luck here.
OK, I did some Google Maps reconnoitering; here's more-or-less the spot where the ROW (or former ROW) that you're alluding to dissolves away to nothing, I think:

Sanford Road intersection, Wesport.

East of Sanford Road, it runs for 9 miles essentially due east all the way to downtown New Bedford. And at all the crossings east of Sanford Road, you see two distinct rails, with cross-ties, and the gravel bed beneath--it appears as if it could be rehabilitated to a working rail line without undue exertion. But at Sanford Road--kaput.

Right, F-Line?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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OK, I did some Google Maps reconnoitering; here's more-or-less the spot where the ROW (or former ROW) that you're alluding to dissolves away to nothing, I think:

Sanford Road intersection, Wesport.

East of Sanford Road, it runs for 9 miles essentially due east all the way to downtown New Bedford. And at all the crossings east of Sanford Road, you see two distinct rails, with cross-ties, and the gravel bed beneath--it appears as if it could be rehabilitated to a working rail line without undue exertion. But at Sanford Road--kaput.

Right, F-Line?
Wrong line. That's the Wattupa Branch you linked to, which is very much MassDOT-owned and very much under landbanking protection on its abandoned miles. Wattupa is still active for freight from the wye in downtown New Bedford to a scrap metal company at US 6/MA 88 in Westport, with Bay Colony RR usually running through Dartmouth around lunchtime on Tues. and Thurs. Past MA 88 to Plymouth Ave. in Fall River it was active until the mid-80's for the former mills in downtown. Right now it's trailed from White's of Westport to Britland Park by the former Plymouth Ave. terminus, with one of the former mill spurs also trailed under I-195 to Rodman St. This is the line that could have been a direct consolidated Fall River-New Bedford connector except for the Old Colony never finishing the half-mile gap to Fall River Depot downgrade from Plymouth Ave. The I-195 City Hall air rights now block that unfinished gap.


The Warren Branch starts here in Warren, RI at a junction with the fully RIDOT-landbanked Bristol Branch. Street View is pointing at the approx. location of the former junction, with the Bristol Branch bike path on the other side of the parking lot. Turns due east while the Bristol Branch continues south. The RI portion is fairly unencroached, with just parking lots poured on it (first couple thousand feet I think stayed active a few decades after the rest was abandoned to reach a couple freight customers in Warren). 2 blocks of it is trailed in disconnected fashion right before the state line, spanning Kickemuit River and Long Lane. ROW easily traceable in the woods for the first half-mile across the state line, then it slams headlong into encroachment at Pearse Rd. in Somerset (where there's remains of a former elevated station). Then...nonstop encroachment through Ocean Grove.

Recently closed Brayton Point power plant and I-195 construction erased most traces of the rest of the ROW from Lee River through the sweeping curve it used to make north approaching the Taunton River (although there's not any structures built atop of it here). At Walker St. in Somerset near the river you find traces of an old road overpass with industrial building blocking it. Arch St. was built over a short portion. Then when MA 103 makes its sharp turn north the ROW ran alongside it in backlots (mostly unencroached) until converging at the "rotary to nowhere" which is where the double-decker Slades Ferry Bridge crossed the river. Fall River side of the bridge is currently dead-end Remington Ave., where tracks peeled off the upper-deck of the bridge and crossed Davol St. at roughly President Ave. (today's ugly-ass MA 79 elevated highway blocking that path).


There isn't a single fungible segment of it left in MA. It's either outright blocked or legally all gobbled up by adjoining property lines in all the most critical places, leaving the wooded unencroached areas by the state line and Brayton Point without any feasible way to tie themselves back together. Even if you tried to carve a path from the border to the I-195 median missing all houses en route and find some new jumping-off point off the median near the MA 103 exit, all the ocean inlets and wetlands abutting the highway end up wrecking the insertion angles to implausibility with bad geometry. It's a goner.
 

DBM

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Wrong line. That's the Wattupa Branch you linked to, which is very much MassDOT-owned and very much under landbanking protection on its abandoned miles. Wattupa is still active for freight from the wye in downtown New Bedford to a scrap metal company at US 6/MA 88 in Westport, with Bay Colony RR usually running through Dartmouth around lunchtime on Tues. and Thurs. Past MA 88 to Plymouth Ave. in Fall River it was active until the mid-80's for the former mills in downtown. Right now it's trailed from White's of Westport to Britland Park by the former Plymouth Ave. terminus, with one of the former mill spurs also trailed under I-195 to Rodman St. This is the line that could have been a direct consolidated Fall River-New Bedford connector except for the Old Colony never finishing the half-mile gap to Fall River Depot downgrade from Plymouth Ave. The I-195 City Hall air rights now block that unfinished gap.


The Warren Branch starts here in Warren, RI at a junction with the fully RIDOT-landbanked Bristol Branch. Street View is pointing at the approx. location of the former junction, with the Bristol Branch bike path on the other side of the parking lot. Turns due east while the Bristol Branch continues south. The RI portion is fairly unencroached, with just parking lots poured on it (first couple thousand feet I think stayed active a few decades after the rest was abandoned to reach a couple freight customers in Warren). 2 blocks of it is trailed in disconnected fashion right before the state line, spanning Kickemuit River and Long Lane. ROW easily traceable in the woods for the first half-mile across the state line, then it slams headlong into encroachment at Pearse Rd. in Somerset (where there's remains of a former elevated station). Then...nonstop encroachment through Ocean Grove.

Recently closed Brayton Point power plant and I-195 construction erased most traces of the rest of the ROW from Lee River through the sweeping curve it used to make north approaching the Taunton River (although there's not any structures built atop of it here). At Walker St. in Somerset near the river you find traces of an old road overpass with industrial building blocking it. Arch St. was built over a short portion. Then when MA 103 makes its sharp turn north the ROW ran alongside it in backlots (mostly unencroached) until converging at the "rotary to nowhere" which is where the double-decker Slades Ferry Bridge crossed the river. Fall River side of the bridge is currently dead-end Remington Ave., where tracks peeled off the upper-deck of the bridge and crossed Davol St. at roughly President Ave. (today's ugly-ass MA 79 elevated highway blocking that path).


There isn't a single fungible segment of it left in MA. It's either outright blocked or legally all gobbled up by adjoining property lines in all the most critical places, leaving the wooded unencroached areas by the state line and Brayton Point without any feasible way to tie themselves back together. Even if you tried to carve a path from the border to the I-195 median missing all houses en route and find some new jumping-off point off the median near the MA 103 exit, all the ocean inlets and wetlands abutting the highway end up wrecking the insertion angles to implausibility with bad geometry. It's a goner.
Got it--extremely helpful--and how amazing that it can be photo-illustrated so helpfully by all the Google streetview grabs, of course! Thanks for the quick reply & elucidation...
 

nicanbot

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MjolnirMan

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Based on that description, it sounds like it'll be replacing the parking lot and small retail buildings near the center of this image, and not the large parking garage.

1582046431065.png


EDIT: Some more information, including a... "rendering"...?
The proposed Brook Street building site currently houses several properties owned by Brown.

A single-story commercial building at 250 Brook St. is home to three retail establishments and a substation for the Providence Police Department. The University is engaged in discussion with each of those tenants to support their relocation efforts when current leases expire.

Two residential buildings on the site are used as rental units, with tenant agreements set to expire at the conclusion of the current semester. A third residential building on the site is vacant.

In considering new construction projects and modern adaptations of existing structures, Brown works to balance its commitment to preserving the character of its historic neighborhood with the need to provide spaces that enable the University to fulfill its mission. In evaluating this potential site, Brown commissioned a study by an external consultant to evaluate the historic, cultural and architectural significance of each of the existing structures. That analysis confirmed that none of the four buildings, which would be demolished to enable the new project, are eligible for individual listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
 
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nicanbot

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This story is from April 2019 from PEBB Capital; the developer involved with the 155 Chestnut project.

Anyway, it's on opportunity zones but I point it out because the writer notes that "...at PEBB Capital, we’re currently under contract on multiple land parcels in the Jewelry District of Providence, RI where we plan to build multiple mixed-use assets catering to the existing office, retail and residential demand which we expect to expand as the submarket continues to mature on the heels of Brown University’s expansion and the growth of the life sciences industry in the area. It’s far less risky for a developer to start at the periphery and work its way into the heart of the OZ."

I kind of thought this wouldn't be a one off project (if it ever gets off the ground), but does anyone know how to find out what parcels they could be referring to?
 

MjolnirMan

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The Providence City Plan Commission approved construction of a 61-unit apartment building in Fox Point, replacing 99-101 Gano St.

Per PBN:
The new building is designed by Union Studio Architecture and Design and will feature enclosed parking for 61 vehicles, topped by four floors of apartments in one- and two-bedroom configurations. It will rise to a height of 60 feet, which is 10 feet higher than the zoning allows. The City Plan Commission in its decision allowed the additional height.

The decision followed more than an hour of public comment on the project, most of it opposed. Residents of Fox Point and the Wayland Square neighborhoods cited the size and scale of the building and its impact on traffic.

John Goncalves, who is running unopposed to represent the neighborhood on the Providence City Council, urged a no vote. Although the project has been scaled back in size from the six-story building originally proposed, it’s still too big, he said. “It’s going to block sunlight and breezes and river views,” he said. “This scale … is not consistent with the predominantly residential nature of Gano Street.”
Screen-Shot-2020-05-19-at-7.32.24-PM.png

title.PNGdrawings.PNGrender.PNGlandscaping.PNG
(Images from the PDF on the CPC website)
 

Arlington

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There is nearly nothing true about this statement: “It’s going to block sunlight and breezes and river views,” he said. “This scale … is not consistent with the predominantly residential nature of Gano Street.”

Sunlight and Breezes and Views?
Much of Transit St is uphill from Gano.
The lot across the street is an empty lot
The shadows will mostly fall on the streets to the north and west and asphalt of the boat launch to the north.
A multiuse path invites everyone to have access to the water.

Residential Nature of Gano St?
Gano here is a half block from a freeway offramp and two blocks from an onramp
The rest of the streetwall is a plumber, a florist, a car dealer and a meat market
The building itself actually is residential, which is hard to say isn't consistent with a purportedly residential nature of the street. if anything it makes the neighborhood more residential.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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There is nearly nothing true about this statement: “It’s going to block sunlight and breezes and river views,” he said. “This scale … is not consistent with the predominantly residential nature of Gano Street.”

Sunlight and Breezes and Views?
Much of Transit St is uphill from Gano.
The lot across the street is an empty lot
The shadows will mostly fall on the streets to the north and west and asphalt of the boat launch to the north.
A multiuse path invites everyone to have access to the water.

Residential Nature of Gano St?
Gano here is a half block from a freeway offramp and two blocks from an onramp
The rest of the streetwall is a plumber, a florist, a car dealer and a meat market
The building itself actually is residential, which is hard to say isn't consistent with a purportedly residential nature of the street. if anything it makes the neighborhood more residential.
What about "undesireables"? Is there a whining angle where they can codedly out themselves as bigots to boot?
 

nicanbot

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Glad this was approved! I don’t know why folks would fight stuff like this. It’ll only improve things IMO and also it’s not like it’s talking access to the river away. The bike path is still there. It’s basically a mini waste land next to a highway on-ramp.

Also super excited to see 580 South Water moving along so quickly. Depressed for Fish Co down the street which basically planned to open the day the world changed. They have killer outside space.
 

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PBN: I-195 district development continues through coronavirus pandemic

Highlights:
 
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nicanbot

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Exeter going to be a total game changer for that pocket. Excited for it all!
 

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Some Pawtucket development news: https://www.valleybreeze.com/2020-0...llion-plan-requests-20-year-pact#.XuExQW5Fxv0

Representatives for the Peyser Group, in officially unveiling their plans for a $43 million project off Dexter Street, are asking for a 20-year tax stabilization agreement and an acquisition of a small city-owned property to better facilitate the project.

The Dexter Street Commons project will be a new 151,000-square-foot ground-up, market-rate residential mixed-used development, located one block from the new Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Station and bus hub.

Director of Commerce Jeanne Boyle, in recommending approval of the stabilization agreement, said this project is “one of the most significant private investments to ever occur in Pawtucket,” acting as a catalyst to more development in the Conant Thread District.

Paired with the $400 million riverfront stadium project up the road, city officials say these anchor projects will lead to gaps in between filling with new development and tenants.


The editor does a good summary of some of the other development projects in the area.
 

Lrfox

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That looks pretty nice for the location. It'd be ideal for commuters.
 

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