Amidst discussions over whether to construct a new Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League) ballpark, a company is showing interest in developing a nearby parcel.
Officials in Pawtucket and Rhode Island continue to debate the funding of a proposed new facility for the PawSox. As part of an $83-million project, the new ballpark would be constructed at the site of an Apex department store, where backers of the plan believe it would be a catalyst for downtown development.
Interest is being shown in developing a nearby location, as the Providence-based Churchill & Banks has submitted a letter of interest for the nearby Tidewater site. Formerly used for a manufactured gas plant, the Tidewater site is being eyed for redevelopment by Churchill & Banks as part of a concept that includes housing and commercial space.
For some local officials, this is one of the latest signs that at a new PawSox ballpark would bring development to Pawtucket. Concern has been expressed that Pawtucket will not attract enough development to generate the revenue needed to pay off its $15-million share of the project, but mayor Donald Grebien is calling on Rhode Island lawmakers to notice the level of interest from developers. More from The Valley Breeze:
As the General Assembly considers whether to invest in the project, the proposal is generating interest from private sector developers who have contacted the city about opportunities near and around the proposed site, said Grebien. This type of ancillary development will “breathe new life and new revenue into Pawtucket,” he said, and the two possible projects announced this week represent about $600,000 in new annual revenue. The city’s total annual obligation on the project is expected to be about $900,000.
“The Ballpark at Slater Mill is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spur development in our downtown and on our riverfront,” said Grebien in an emailed statement. “We cannot let this opportunity pass us by and the high levels of interest from the private sector are proof of just that. Now that the hearing process has come to a close and the PawSox have opened their books to the auditor general and CommerceRI, we are hopeful that an affirmative vote will happen very soon so we can get this great project moving forward. We thank the Senate and the House for their ongoing work and commitment to improve our great state.”
Pawtucket is an urban community with limited revenue growth potential without new development, said Grebien. The city needs the state to step up to support efforts to keep the team in Pawtucket and bring new economic development.
The PawSox have been seeking a new ballpark to replace McCoy Stadium, where their lease is set to expire after the 2020 season. The financing plan in Pawtucket also calls for a $23 million contribution from the state, plus $45 million from the PawSox ($12 million upfront, the rest paybacks on money borrowed by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency). Along with Pawtucket, Worcester, MA is among the cities that has been connected to the team in relation to its new ballpark search.
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