Will it be a park or a ballpark on 195 land?

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are able to carve out a place for their proposed riverfront ballpark, it could gobble up almost a third of the land set aside for redevelopment after Interstate 195 was moved, Target 12 has learned.

18.81 acres of land, cut up into 16 parcels, went up for sale, and so far purchase and sales contracts are signed for two lots. Parcel 8, a 13,000 square foot piece of property at the corner of Pike and South Main, is under agreement for $750,000. Parcel 28, a 54,000 square foot piece of property near Friendship Street, is under agreement for $2.7 million.

Both deals are contingent on tax stabilization agreements with the city, which would give the owners artificially lower taxes on the property. The new owners of the PawSox are looking for a tax stabilization deal as well for a plot of land that would be potentially made up of two acres now owned by Brown University, and all or part of what is known as P-4 in the memorandum of understanding negotiated between the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. The pact set aside three park plots that total about seven acres. P-4 is about five acres.

PawSox ownership group President James Skeffington said using the park property would not impact the state’s ability to attract businesses with high-paying jobs to the rest of the area.

“The land that we’re talking about was never intended to be the land to produce the high paying jobs,” Skeffington said during a taping of Newsmakers. “The land for the most part that we’re talking about under the master plan for the 195 commission was open space.”

Newsmakers: Click here to watch the full episode with Jim Skeffington >>
Newsmakers: Watch the full episode with Jim Skeffington »

But sources close to the 195 redevelopment effort tell Target 12 if the P-4 land is used for the stadium, open space would have to be created somewhere else in the district. That could mean five of the 18.81 acres, almost a third of the available land, would be taken up by the PawSox, unless the open space agreement is changed to allow less open space. We’re told the other possibility would be to use P-4 for the stadium and put a park on another parcel.

195 redevelopment district spokesperson Dyana Koelsch did not answer questions about the open space issue, but said the commission has received out of state and instate interest about the available property. But she did not offer many details about the PawSox owners’ interest.

“There is no formal proposal from the owners of the PawSox,” she said in an email.

Koelsch did not say whether or not the new owners have made informal inquiries.

“We like others in the state are hoping the PawSox stay in Rhode Island, Koelsch said. “There are many questions that will need to be answered to determine if the 195 land is an appropriate location for a new stadium. The commission staff is currently compiling information  so that an informed decision can be made.”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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