Wexford 195 project to break ground Monday

An aerial rendering of the Wexford project's first phase.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The centerpiece of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plans for the old 195 land, the Wexford Science & Technology innovation campus, will break ground on Monday, according to the governor’s office.

The development – a partnership between Wexford and developer CV Properties – is eventually supposed to turn parcels 22 and 25 of the vacant highway land into a million-square-foot-plus multi-use complex. The proposal was first announced in May 2015, but has been slow to get going. The state has authorized tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to make it happen.

The groundbreaking will mark a milestone for the 195 land, which has remained mostly unused for years despite the lofty hopes of Rhode Island leaders. “This is the fruit of the governor’s efforts and putting priority around finding an anchor tenant for 195,” Raimondo spokesman Mike Raia said.

The $158-million first phase of the Wexford project is slated to include two buildings: a 191,000-square-foot innovation center that is expected to house Brown University’s School of Professional Studies and the Cambridge Innovation Center, and a 170-room Starwood Brand Aloft Hotel with ground-floor retail. Other tenants have not yet been announced.

At 287,000 square feet, the first phase is more modest than the original proposal of nearly 500,000 square feet. Second and third phases are planned down the line but not yet finalized.

Baltimore-based Wexford has also bought and renovated One Ship Street, another building by the 195 land, which now houses Johnson & Johnson’s new Providence digital office. The company is also involved in the $220-million South Street Landing project that’s turning an old power plant into a home for a state nursing school.

Shawmut Design & Construction is serving as the general contractor for both the Wexford innovation complex and the South Street Landing project’s River House student apartments component.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook