PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University, Rhode Island College (RIC), and the University of Rhode Island (URI) announced plans today to advance a comprehensive redevelopment project in Providence’s Jewelry District. In collaboration with the State of Rhode Island and City of Providence, the three institutions will enter lease negotiations with Commonwealth Venture Properties, a private developer, that would transform the former South Street Power Station — “Dynamo House,” 360 Eddy Street — to accommodate educational and health sciences growth, including a shared RIC/URI nursing center. The project would also provide additional retail space, housing for graduate, medical, and upper-level nursing students, and a new parking facility on adjacent property.
As currently envisioned, the proposed mixed-use complex would include:
- up to 120,000 square feet of space in the redeveloped South Street Power Station for a RIC/URI shared nursing education center;
- 120,000 square feet of space in the former Power Station for Brown University, to be used initially for administrative offices, freeing up College Hill campus space for core academic growth;
- a new, 150,000 square-foot apartment-style student residence for approximately 296 graduate, medical, and upper-level nursing students, to be built on the parking area of Davol Square;
- 15,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurant and retail space in the new residential building;
- 20,000 square feet of space for start-ups and other small technology-based companies;
- a new parking structure with 600 parking spaces located on a surface parking area on Point Street, south of Davol Square; and
- improvements to the public space along the Providence River and connection to the new public park to be located in the area made available through the relocation of Interstate 195.
The total project cost is estimated to be $206 million and is expected to be financed through a combination of previously committed state historic tax credits, new federal historic tax credits, private debt/private equity, and public support for the parking structure. Long-term lease commitments from Brown for approximately half of the space and from the state for the shared nursing center will enable the project to move forward.
According to a report produced by independent economic analysts at Appleseed, the project is expected to have a positive short- and long-term economic impact on the city and state, creating more than 1,500 construction-related jobs, a total of $248 million in economic output, and more than $90 million in employee compensation. Once completed and fully operational, the project is intended to offer opportunities for the residents of Providence and Rhode Island, enhance nursing education, and create jobs in a range of sectors from commercial start-ups to retail and service sectors.
“Over the last decade, Brown has invested more than $200 million in the Jewelry District, renovating facilities to support research, education, and administration and supporting a range of neighborhood enhancements,” said Brown University President Christina H. Paxson. “By pursuing this project and this partnership, we hope to further enliven the neighborhood, transforming this important but neglected facility into an enduring asset, adding value to a critical area of our city and state. I am grateful to the many partners who have come together to support this concept, and I look forward to addressing the many remaining challenges in a timely way to advance progress.”
Brown began exploring the possibility of renovating the South Street Power Station during discussions with Commonwealth Ventures President Dick Galvin, who was retained to develop graduate student housing at Davol Square, adjacent to the Power Station. It became evident that renovating the century-old Power Station structure would be essential for the long-term vitality of the area. Given the size, scale, and opportunities arising from its own institutional planning for the initiative, Brown invited leaders from URI and RIC to consider the project as an option to address their well-established need to meet growing demands in nursing education. Discussions with city and state leaders followed.
“During my campaign for governor and since taking office, I have been focused on growing Rhode Island’s economy through our assets in the ‘meds and eds,’ even leading Rhode Island leaders on a number of trips to cities that have successfully capitalized on these high-growth industries,” Gov. Lincoln Chafee said. “The proposal we put forward today is a perfect example of the job-generating potential of the meds and the eds. Our institutions of higher learning are partnering — with state and city support — with a private developer to breathe new life into a building, a neighborhood, and our entire capital city. This promising project will further cement Rhode Island’s reputation as a center of excellence in academia, health care, medical research, and collaborative innovation.”
“The City of Providence enthusiastically supports this project to redevelop the Dynamo House as a shared nursing, education, administration, student housing, and retail center,“ said Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. “This important Providence landmark has been vacant for many years, and finding a productive use for the building has been a high priority. This project significantly advances our efforts to transform Providence’s Jewelry District into a regional hub for healthcare, research, and higher education. I commend Brown, the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College for their willingness to collaborate and think creatively as we work together to grow the economy of our city and state.”
“Nursing remains a critical area of demand in our state, and our public institutions of higher education produce 80 percent of the nursing graduates annually,” said RIC President Nancy Carriuolo. “It is essential that we invest in the infrastructure to support this growing component of our professional workforce. Doing so in a collaborative way, optimizing resources, will ensure that we are positioned to provide access to affordable, high-quality, relevant nursing education.”
The project offers the potential benefit of valuable adjacencies, providing opportunities to strengthen existing collaborations and to maximize resources through shared tools and facilities. It will be located across from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and close to Brown’s Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, Johnson & Wales University’s physician’s assistant program, and a number of affiliated teaching hospitals.
“We have been pursuing the potential of locating a joint nursing facility in Providence for several years in order to take better advantage of the critical adjacencies offered in Providence and the Jewelry District,” said URI President David Dooley. “We are convinced that this project will not only provide state-of-the-art facilities to educate the advanced nursing workforce of the 21st century, but also has the potential to catalyze further development in the area. While we have a lot of work to do in the coming months, I am optimistic that given the support of the state, the city, and the community, we will be able to deliver an innovative, cost-effective project that will have an extremely positive outcome for the residents of our state and region. I want to thank the governor, Senate President Paiva-Weed, Speaker Fox, and Chairmen Melo and DaPonte for their support.”
City and state officials have called for rigorous due diligence over the course of the project’s development thus far, requiring assessments of risk, long-term projections of workforce demand and detailed financial analyses. This week, the General Assembly introduced a joint resolution that, if passed, would endorse the concept and enable leaders from RIC, URI, and the state to work with the developer to negotiate a long-term lease agreement. The actual construction phase of the project can only begin when final, respective lease agreements are developed and approved by the Rhode Island State Properties Committee, Rhode Island Board of Education, governor and General Assembly for the shared nursing center, and by the Corporation of Brown University for Brown.
“A project of this magnitude and complexity requires the dedication and support of a range of partners,” said Dick Galvin. “It also offers substantial opportunities for Providence and Rhode Island. It is gratifying to work with skilled and committed private and public sector colleagues on this collaboration.”
“The proposed shared nursing facility in collaboration with Brown University is an exciting concept for higher education and for health care in the state,” said Eva-Marie Mancuso, chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education. “The education board looks forward to working with RIC and URI on this project, which will ensure our students and faculty have access to the advanced technologies and resources needed to care for individuals, families, and communities in promoting health, reducing risk, preventing disease and managing illnesses in a complex, changing health care system.”
The South Street Power Station — “Dynamo House” — is a former Narragansett Electric/National Grid power plant that was operational from 1912 through the early 1990s. The property has been vacant since 1999. The property consists of 1.76 acres improved with a multistory shell building with an approximate 60,000 sq. ft. footprint.