TIVERTON — What could well be the largest commercial development undertaking in Tiverton’s history will be previewed Monday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.
That’s when the project called “Tiverton Crossings,” being proposed by the Carpionato Group will go before a special joint workshop meeting of the Tiverton Town Council and the Tiverton Planning Board.
The Carpionato Group proposes to construct 18 buildings on a massive 62 acre site stretching nearly the entire distance between Fish and Main Roads and bounded north and south by Souza Road and Route 24.
At the west end, fronting on Main Road, would be a four-story 100 room hotel (62,000 square feet). Adjacent, also fronting on Main Road, would be a 10,000 square foot restaurant and conference facility, with 475 seat one of the three restaurants proposed for the facility, which would have a conference facility with 475 seats. It would be one of three restaurants proposed for the site.
Distributed over the acreage east of the hotel, would be driveways and parking areas,
and buildings that will offer retail space totaling 385,830 square feet, office space totaling 152,060 square feet, restaurant space (two restaurants) totaling 12,000 square feet, and residential space totaling 95,260 square feet (70 living units).
Four buildings will be three-stories high and be of mixed use, combining residential on top, offices on the second floor, and ground floor store-front retail.
These four buildings would be situated above and to the east of the hotel, on land that lies at the westerly end of the acreage to be developed but which slopes down to the west and would likely afford occupants views west to the Sakonnet River and Mount Hope Bridge.
Two additional buildings would be two stories high, and combine retail and office space.
Eight buildings, six with their backstop Route 24, the other two backing against the eastern boundary of the site, would be purely retail, ranging in size from 16,800 to 45,000 square feet.
A Concept Plan filed March 5 with the Tiverton Planning Board shows the east-west boundaries of the proposed Tiverton Crossings project stretching roughly from the rear lot of Viti Mercedes-Benz on Fish Road (at the east end) to the property lines of several homes that front on Main Road (on the west).
Previous proposals for the site
A portion of the site proposed for development consists of 44 acres bought in 1985 by James McInnis, a former Massachusetts lawyer and sometime Florida resident, and is held by him as trustee of Tiverton Associates Trust.
The acreage has a history of development proposals that went nowhere.
in March, 2008, Mr. McInnis filed an application to build a major retail and office development on the acreage.
Mr. McInnis’ development proposal was filed just hours before the town council voted to amend the zoning for the property, changing it from highway commercial to R-40 residential.
Mr. McInnis’ lawyer at the time, Scott T. Spear, described his client’s proposed complex as consisting of 16 buildings, two restaurants, and some other structures that could be a municipal building, a senior center, and an amphitheater.
The largest building Mr. McInnis proposed for the site back then was to be 39,000 square feet, though there would be two two-story buildings, one totaling 22,000 square feet and the other 27,800 square feet.
In comments to the town council at the time, Mr. Spear told the council that the McInnis proposal would include “seven acres for town or municipal uses,” although maps filed with the McInnis application showed only 3.9 usable acres dedicated for such purposes.
Mr. Spear also told the council that the 44 acre McInnis parcel was “one of the most significant parcels in town for development like this.”
Evidently hoping to distinguish the 2008 McInnis proposal from a previous unsuccessful proposal, and perhaps secure the council’s approval for his client’s idea, Mr. Spear said the 2008 McInnis proposal — for a 247,000 square foot complex —was “significantly smaller than New England Development’s proposal.”
He was referring to a failed development proposal for the same 44-acre site, rejected by the town at least two years previously, that had been made by New England Development Corporation (NED).
That prior proposal called for a 275,000 square foot development. Mr. McInnis had had a purchase and sale agreement with NED for the latter to build the proposed mall.
But the town nixed the NED proposal, largely on findings that it was too large, would generate too much traffic, was environmentally unsound, and was inconsistent with the town’s comprehensive plan.
Nothing has become of Mr. McInnis’ March, 2008 proposal in the years since it was first presented.
The balance of the acreage (18.25 acres) included in the Carpionato proposal is owned by Brito Associates of Bristol, whose progenitor, Joseph M. Brito Sr. of Bristol, sold it to the Associates for $0 (zero dollars) in 1995, and the Carpionato Concept Plan headed to the joint workshop on April 29 is that much larger than either the 2008 McInnis proposal or the failed NED proposal two years before it.
What comes next
The occasion for the upcoming workshop is technically what is known as a “pre-application informal concept plan review.” No vote will be taken. Representatives from the Carpionato Group are expected to make a presentation. Because it is a “pre-application” event, no clock is ticking on any deadline, and no commitments to a timeline are involved.
What will happen after the workshop could be nothing, or be the filing of a formal master plan or development application for planning board review.
In its concept plan, Carpionato states, “phasing of the project has not been determined and will be market driven, and will be addressed prior to final plan submission.”
The massive Carpionato proposal (filed March 5) comes before the town for possible review and consideration at almost the same time (April 4) that the town Budget Committee rejected a Town Council recommendation (and accompanying budget proposal for $65,000) that the town hire a full-time planner.
Instead, the Budget Committee has recommended for voter approval at the May 21 Financial Town Referendum (FTR) that the town utilize the part-time services of a planning consultant for $20,000.