Warren to buy National Grid property at north end

Historic building, 1.38 acres of land seen as first class entryway into town; would include vendors and future development

By Ted Hayes
Posted 9/19/19

The Town of Warren has agreed to purchase a 1.3-acre waterfront parcel of land abutting the Warren River at the Warren-Barrington town line, as well as a historic brick building on the site, from …

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Warren to buy National Grid property at north end

Historic building, 1.38 acres of land seen as first class entryway into town; would include vendors and future development

Posted

The Town of Warren has agreed to purchase a 1.3-acre waterfront parcel of land abutting the Warren River at the Warren-Barrington town line, as well as a historic brick building on the site,  from National Grid. The sale price is $450,000.

Warren Town Planner Bob Rulli said town officials hope to restore the late 1800s brick building into an indoor public market where local entrepreneurs and start-ups emerging from Hope & Main can have retail stalls to present and sell their products.

Additionally, he said, utilizing the existing foundation from a former maintenance building on the property, town officials also foresee the development of a two-story building that would include 9,500 square feet of space, with the potential for another building to be build that could cover 1,200 square feet.

“Our goal is to make this a destination and meeting location for both residents and visitors to Warren,” Warren Town Manger Kate Michaud said.

The proposed development plan also includes public amenities such as a pedestrian connection to the Warren-Barrington Bridge, a continuation of the Riverwalk that was constructed as part of the Tourister project, the development of a coastal buffer adjacent to the shoreline to address coastal resilience and habitat restoration, and as outdoor space for public art and activities.

The town's plans, and the acquisition, will be unveiled at a press conference scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20. Town officials, as well as Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, will be on hand.

The property had been formerly used by Narragansett Electric Company as an operations and maintenance facility. At the present time all that remains on the site is the historic brick building, which housed transmission equipment, and the foundation.

Town officials have long eyed the site and over the past year, with assistance from Senator Whitehouse’s office, initiated conversations with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) regarding funding to assist in planning for the reuse of the property. This past summer EDA Regional Representative Alan Brigham and representatives from the offices of Senator Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed and Congressman David Cicilline met at the site with town officials to discuss the future of the site and the potential for EDA assistance.

Apart from its location at the town's entryway, the property is within an Opportunity Zone. Warren was one of 15 municipalities in Rhode Island to have a census tract designated as an Opportunity Zone by the United States Treasury Department in 2018.

The new federal program provides tax incentives for private investors to direct capital gains into equity investments in qualified projects within designated Opportunity Zones. Town officials said that both the EDA assistance and Opportunity Zone designation are a catalyst for attracting private investment and development on the site.

“For years the town has sought to acquire this property and through the efforts of past town councils and the present council, I am so pleased that we are now in a position to create a signature gateway destination for the town,” Warren Town Council President Keri Cronin stated.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.