Two firms make bids on former Oldham School property in East Providence

RFP process ends a day after city receives $200K federal grant for incubator proposal

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/21/23

EAST PROVIDENCE — A proposed small business/entrepreneurial incubator program to be housed at the long-dormant Oldham School made two pieces of news in recent days.

First, the city …

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Two firms make bids on former Oldham School property in East Providence

RFP process ends a day after city receives $200K federal grant for incubator proposal

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — A proposed small business/entrepreneurial incubator program to be housed at the long-dormant Oldham School made two pieces of news in recent days.

First, the city announced on Wednesday, Sept. 20, it received a boost when the city was awarded a $200,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration (USEDA) Adjustment Assistant Program planning grant.

The monies are earmarked for East Providence's "Small Business and Blue Economy Incubator Project" at the former James R. D. Oldham Elementary School building on Bullocks Point Avenue.

Oldham School was shuttered by the then state-appointed Budget Commission in 2013 as a cost-cutting measure due to falling enrollment numbers in the district as well as the need to replace the now 71-year-old building's roof, a project pegged at arounbd $2 million a decade ago. It was used as a storage facility by the School Department until the district conveyed ownership of the property back to the city late in 2022.

The USEDA grant requires a $100,000 match by the city. In a press release, the city said the funding will be used to develop a feasibility study, which includes "market research, potential competition and analysis of startup and development costs. The study will also assist in the development of a plan of action for the space."

The intended focus of the incubator is on job creation through business startups. It's aim is also to provide a "network of resources to small businesses that will ensure a greater level of long-term success."

Some potential uses of the space include food production (specifically baking and gluten-free production), technology, sustainability/renewable energy and the arts.

Feedback received through the city’s partnership with Roger Williams University, whose students worked with the Planning & Economic Development Department  as part of an effort called the Riverside Square Revitalization Assessment and Recommendations plan.

The second bit of news pertains to a recent Request for Proposal process initiated on the Oldham property.

The announcement of the USEDA grant comes just about six weeks after the administration of Mayor Bob DaSilva opened the RFP, offering up to an outside entity an opportunity to turn Oldham into the aforementioned small business incubator or to possibly purchase the 33,900 square foot building/3.9 acre lot outright from the city to add a "mixed-use housing" component to the project.

According to the RFP, the property is zoned as Open-1, which primarily allows the following uses: farming, conservation, nursery, park/playground, church, cultural activity, camp for children. It is, however, also located in the "Riverside Square Overlay District," which for more flexibility regarding building and use requirements.

The RFP actually closed on Thursday, Sept. 21, a day after the city publicly acknowledged receipt of the USEDA grant

Two firms responded to the RFP: Touchdown Realty Group based out of North Kingstown submitted a bid of $1.25 million and the Armory Management Company based in Providence submitted a bid of $1.5 million. No details of the bids were posted to the city's solicitations webpage as of later Thursday evening.

View the Oldham RFP documents here...

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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.