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East Providence seeks new development proposals for vacant VAMCO property

Latest RFP includes several inducements previously offered for Riverside parcel

By Mike Rego
Posted 8/3/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — The city recently issued its latest Request for Proposal, seeking plans on how best to redevelop the vacant, municipaly-owned parcel at the corner of Fenner and Bullocks Point …

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East Providence seeks new development proposals for vacant VAMCO property

Latest RFP includes several inducements previously offered for Riverside parcel

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The city recently issued its latest Request for Proposal, seeking plans on how best to redevelop the vacant, municipaly-owned parcel at the corner of Fenner and Bullocks Point Avenues in Riverside familiar to most as the location of the former VAMCO Jewelry factory. The RFP process was slated to end next week.

According to the press release issued by the office of Mayor Bob DaSilva, the city purchased the property in 2007. The dilapidated building was demolished and the city put the vacant property, which abuts the East Bay Bike Path, out to bid in 2016.

Since, the city has alternatively enhanced the 19,000 square foot parcel and offered inducements to potential developers.

In late 2017, through the Community Development division of the Planning Department, tax stabilization and a reduction in the purchase price was on offer to those who would show a willingness “to investing in other privately owned properties” within the Riverside Square footprint. Many of the those public finance support systems remain in place under the terms of the current RFP.

At that time, Community Development Director David Bachrach said, “We desire a higher density of residential units that could be anything from work/live artist units to retail condos on the ground level and residential condos above for their owners. The overarching goal is the revitalization of Riverside Square.”

In the city’s 2018-19 Capital Improvement Budget, $100,000 was requested for continued remediation of the site, including its “capping” to achieve what would be considered full environmental compliance as a part of a planned mixed-use development. The effort then was described as assisting with any additional environmental compliance needs and leveraging developer funding. The money, however, has not been used and remains in the Capital account pending potential offers on the property, according to Mr. Bachrach, who added the city may go ahead with the planned upgrades if feasible.

The process continued last week with the issuance of the RFP (see attachment). Mayor DaSilva said, “We’ve always seen all parts of our city as a place to live, work, learn and play and this area is no different. We envision that area of Riverside to be a destination area for our creative community, which would provide an area for live/work spaces, restaurants and galleries.”

The city’s vision statement for the parcel refers to Bullocks Point Avenue as the area’s “Main Street,” envisioning redevelopment of the area as an “Arts District” consisting of work/live spaces, galleries, restaurants, small first floor retail, music venues, and dynamic public spaces.

The statement continued, seeing the location as a destination for “creative expression” complementing the existing recreational amenities of Larisa and Sabin Point waterfront Parks, the Looff Carousel and the East Bay Bike Path.

The site has a special zoning exemption, allowing for lower parking space requirements and for the building be up to three stories high.

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