PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The chairman of the commission tasked with overseeing the development of roughly 40 acres of downtown land vacant by the relocation of I-195 has resigned, WPRI.com has confirmed.
Colin Kane, the owner of the East Providence-based Peregrine Group development firm, sent his resignation letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo Wednesday. He has served as chairman since the commission was founded in 2011.
“Colin offered his resignation, and the governor accepted,” Raimondo spokeswoman Marie Aberger told WPRI.com. “We asked for his continued advice and counsel, and he has agreed to stay on through the transition process. The governor is grateful for Colin’s dedicated service to the people of Rhode Island, which helped lay the groundwork for this project.”
“We will have more details on what’s next for the commission in the coming days,” Aberger added, without providing further details.
The seven-member commission’s other members include Dr. Barrett Bready, Barbara Hunger, Diana Johnson, John Kelly, Mark Ryan, Michael Van Leesten. The group was selected by former Gov. Lincoln Chafee with input from the city of Providence and former House Speaker Gordon Fox.
State lawmakers created the commission four years ago to guide the “thoughtful and planned economic development of the land opened up by the relocation of I-195,” according to a 2011 news release announcing the panel. At the time Chafee said each commission member “brings with them proven records of accomplishment, commitment to service, and a common purpose: bringing economic revitalization, jobs, and future prosperity to Providence and Rhode Island.”
The commission has already approved the sale of two parcels on the vacant land. In January it agreed to sell a parcel near Pike Street to Royal Oaks Realty Venture for a $20-million mixed-use development that will include space for retailers, offices and apartments. In November, it approved a $50-million privatized student housing project at the corners of Chestnut and Clifford Streets.
Both deals are contingent on the developers reaching tax-stabilization agreements with the city of Providence. Mayor Jorge Elorza and City Council President Luis Aponte have said they want to review the city’s process for issuing tax breaks to developers.
Raimondo said repeatedly during her campaign for governor that she wanted to take a different approach to developing the old I-195 land. She has floated the idea of giving away some of the property to create a Rhode Island Innovation Institute that would help local companies and colleges create new products.