Council signals support for Chevron TIF agreement with East Providence

Body must take up the matter once more before it becomes official

By Mike Rego
Posted 11/6/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The council at its November 5 meeting took the precautionary step of giving tacit second approval to an ordinance entering into a Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) agreement with the …

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Council signals support for Chevron TIF agreement with East Providence

Body must take up the matter once more before it becomes official

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The council at its November 5 meeting took the precautionary step of giving tacit second approval to an ordinance entering into a Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) agreement with the Chevron Corporation to initial the redevelopment of the former Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL) storage tank location off Waterfront Drive.

Due to a clerical issue with the posting of the meeting date, the council must formally redress the matter once more before it becomes official, needing to ratify its vote and potentially conduct another public hearing likely at its November 19 forum.

Chevron is seeking up to $9,370,000 to foster redevelopment at the UNOCAL site. The monies, as with the Kettle Point development a few hundred yards south, would be used to install the necessary infrastructure needed to allow for further construction at the site.

Making yet another appearance before the body representing the interests of Chevron were Monte McKillip, owner of the Lincoln, Nebraska-based McKillip and Associates consulting company, and Keenan Rice, president of MuniCap, Inc., a financial advisory firm with offices in Maryland and other locations around the country.

As he has previously, Mr. McKillop provided the council with an overview of the potential UNOCAL site redevelopment, which envisions 115 apartment residences, 43,000 square feet of restaurant/retail space and a 150-room hotel. In addition, the plan includes a 400 seat amphitheater, 5,600 sf of public access space, 58,000 of landscaped areas, 9,500 sf of terrace and gardens, a 400-foot walkway, parking and the initial extension of Waterfront Drive past where it currently stops at the Tockwotton residences.

Mr. Rice highlighted for the first time directly as part of the project an existing pipeline that runs along the property leading to a home fuel filling station on Dexter Road must be repositioned.

“It’s a very important pipeline. It provides fuel to the area,” he said. “Right now, it runs through property. It prevents it from being developed.”

Mr. Rice reiterated the economic details of the TIF proposal while noting the duration of the TIF, per state law, would be 25 years. For the whole proposal to get off the ground, he said the agreement was essential.

“Without the TIF, the funding is just not available,” he continued, adding upon council approval Chevron would immediately begin the process of soliciting developers for the project.

“We think the property has very exciting potential,” Mr. Rice concluded.

New city planning and economic development director Bill Fazioli, who also chairs the East Providence Waterfront Commission, shared that exuberance.

Mr. Fazioli delved into specifics of how the UNOCAL project could affect the city. While saying East Providence has several “positive attributes,” one negative is the continued and project loss of population. In the all-important 25-44-year-old demographic, the city has suffered a 30 percent decline in the last two decades plus. He said, unfortunately, estimates see that trend continuing through 2040. However, projects, like the UNOCAL proposal, could help East Providence stem the tide.

“What we can do to address this issue is make more land developable,” Mr. Fazioli said. “Hopefully we can attract new people into our community.”

Mr. Fazioli cited the Kettle Point mixed-use development off Veterans Parkway, calling it a “very good template” for the UNOCAL location.

The Kettle Point TIF, he said, is already outperforming expectations as it provides over $400,000 annually to the city’s general revenue fund in property and tangible taxes. Before development started there, is brought in just $67,000 each year. Total tax revenue is now close to $1.2 million and growing yearly.

Additionally, all the parcels at the waterfront combined adjacent to the parkway had an assessed value of around $2.2 million. In contrast, at the last assessment completed in 2018, it now over $50 million. Mr. Fazioli said existing residents have seen a benefit in higher market values for their homes in abutting neighborhoods.

Mr. Fazioli ended by saying, “If TIF put together right from the outset, this is really a mechanism that’s designed to succeed and minimize any downside.”

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.