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Carpionato remains ‘enthusiastic’ about Newport Avenue project

Effort to redevelop Narragansett Park Plaza is still a company priority

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/10/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — Though not evident in its scale at the moment, actually work on site and more behind the scenes continues on the Carpionato Group-led mixed-use redevelopment of the moribund …

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Carpionato remains ‘enthusiastic’ about Newport Avenue project

Effort to redevelop Narragansett Park Plaza is still a company priority

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Though not readily evident in its scale at the moment, actually work on site and more behind the scenes continues on the Carpionato Group-led mixed-use redevelopment of the moribund Narragansett Park Plaza on Newport Avenue.

At the request of At-Large member Bob Rodericks, representatives of the company appeared before the City Council at its September 1 meeting to provide an update on the project, the concept of which adds shops, restaurants, offices and residential units to existing commercial spaces.

The 24.9-acre property, including 10.5 acres in Pawtucket, has fallen into significant disrepair since Stop & Shop Supermarket closed its operation there now several years, moving its East Providence location to Pawtucket Avenue.

Most of the existing structures, as intended initially when the project was first presented to both municipalities almost two years ago, will be torn down. Some have already been razed. The lengthy strip on the north side of the property where the Stop & Shop was once housed was always and is to remain.

In his remarks, Carpionato President and Chief Operating Office Kelly Coates, however, told the council Stop & Shop is still a “key stakeholder” of the property and project for legal reasons.

It remains as a tenant, having signed a 50-year lease when its outlet in the plaza opened originally in 1986. Stop & Shop’s rights end in 2036 and continue to include a prohibition of another grocer being allowed to operate in the space.

Mr. Coates said meetings with Stop & Shop are planned in the next few weeks and he should have more details shortly. He added Carpionato believes food “is a critical element in the project” and the company will continue to work through situation with Stop & Shop.

All that being said, he continued, “enthusiasm for the project remains” at Carpionato.

He said his company has already invested some $3.5 million into the effort. That includes the relocating of the Taco Bell Restaurant to a new building on the Pawtucket portion of the property.

Taco Bell was moved in order to ready the site for a main center roadway into the complex and the installation of a new traffic signal at Newport Avenue.

Five buildings total have been knocked down, he noted, and the first corner of the project has been set.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has given conceptual approval for the signal location. The project now awaits the state traffic commission’s final approval. Mr. Coates said his company continues to address access concerns associated with the project as expressed by the owners of Simpson Pharmacy across the street.

As for the overall effort, in general, Mr. Coates said the parcel is a “long developed property” and that there are few regulatory hinderances that could get in the way.

He reminded the council the bulk of the site to be redeveloped was a parking lot as far back as 80 years ago for the Narragansett Race Track before it became a commercial hub in the mid-1980s.

Mr. Coates said over the next several months the project will see more buildings constructed across the front of the property on Newport Avenue, bringing the total to four.

He continued the goal is to establish the basic footprint of the property, adding such things as stone walls, landscaping and signage that will “get the street looking right.”

Doing those things, he continued, “will raise the property values up and (the buildings) along the street will help us as we try to sell and get the rest of the project developed.”

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