June 27, 2013
Members of the Brown Community,
I am writing to share news that Brown, together with the University of Rhode Island (URI) and Rhode Island College (RIC), is exploring the possibility of partnering with private developer Commonwealth Venture Properties on a comprehensive redevelopment project in Providence’s Jewelry District.
The centerpiece of the project is a renovation of the former South Street Power Station located at 360 Eddy Street, known as “Dynamo House.” Approximately one-half of this space (about 120,000 square feet) would be leased by Brown University for administrative and educational programs; the other half would be leased by the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College to house a shared nursing education program. The proposed project also includes an apartment building suitable for graduate, medical and advanced nursing students; retail space; space for start-ups and other small technology-based companies; and a new parking garage.
This week, a joint resolution was introduced in the General Assembly that, if passed, endorses the project in concept and enables URI and RIC to work over the coming months with the developer on a long-term lease agreement, which would require approval by the State Properties Committee and the General Assembly in the next session. The Brown Corporation has endorsed the concept, directing the administration to enter negotiations with the developer on a long-term lease. Assuming the details of these leases are negotiated successfully, we anticipate that construction and renovation would begin in 2014 and the facility would be ready for occupancy in 2016.
The proposed project has a number of attractive features. Medical education in Rhode Island will be strengthened by placing a first-rate nursing education program across the street from Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School. The Jewelry District will be further revitalized by restoring an iconic Providence landmark to productive use and adding new residential and retail space to the neighborhood. The extensive planning that we undertook this last year emphasized the need for additional space on College Hill to accommodate future academic growth. As Brown moves some of its administrative functions to the Jewelry District, it will free up space on College Hill for core academic activities. In the coming months, as we explore this project with our partners, we will determine which areas and functions are best suited for relocation to this newly renovated facility, and the best uses for the space that is made available on College Hill.
Although this is an exciting project, there are still many details to be worked out in the coming months as the leases are negotiated and specific plans for the space are developed. We will keep the community apprised of this project as it proceeds. I am grateful for the enthusiasm and good will that URI, RIC, Commonwealth Venture Properties and officials in Providence and Rhode Island have demonstrated through the initial planning stages. Special thanks to Governor Chafee ’75, Mayor Taveras, Senate President Paiva Weed and Speaker Fox for their leadership. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the city and state, and I am optimistic about the project’s success.
Christina H. Paxson
Christina H. Paxson
Professor of Economics and Public Policy