RI moves ahead on $206M nursing school project

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Board of Education on Monday unanimously signed off on a proposed 15-year lease for the state’s two nursing schools to move into a new joint facility that would be built inside the decaying former South Street Power Station in partnership with Brown University.

The $206-million project, unveiled last year by developer Dick Galvin of CV Properties LLC, would redevelop the former power plant along the Providence River and adjoining property into academic space for the state; office space for Brown; student apartments; and a parking garage.

If all goes as planned, the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College would share approximately half of the 265,000-square foot building for their nursing programs, while the other half would be dedicated to Brown administrative offices.

Private developer CV Properties would develop the space, and the state would owe just over $6 million annually under the lease.

Gallery: View South Street Landing renderings
Gallery: Click to view South Street Landing renderings

Gov. Lincoln Chafee showed confidence in the project, emphasizing the state would only be in for $1 million if it were to fall through.

“The good thing about a public-private partnership is all the risk is on the developer,” said R.I. Dept. of Administration Director Richard Licht. “Other than a few ‘soft costs’ for architects, engineers, and other professionals, the state does not have to put up any money until it gets the keys to the place.”

School officials said the 6-story, 220-bed residential facility and 650-space parking garage will be developed and financed privately.

The South Street Power Station was in use from 1912 until it was decommissioned in the early 1990s. A $150-million plan to turn it into a hotel and museum was abandoned in 2008 when the Great Recession took hold.

The General Assembly must now pass legislation enabling the state to enter into the lease, which would then have to be approved by the State Properties Committee.

It’s expected the state’s lease would start on July 1, 2016, and it would start being used by students when the school year begins that September.

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