Achievement First wants to buy Citizens Bank building on Westminster Street

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The organization that runs two high-performing charter schools in Providence is in talks to purchase the building at 870 Westminster Street to assist with its expansion plan, Eyewitness News has learned.

Amanda Pinto, a spokesperson for Achievement First, confirmed Wednesday the organization is seeking to buy the property, which currently houses a Citizens Bank branch. She said the purchase has not been finalized.

Pinto did not say how much Achievement First may pay for the building, but its owner, Chicago-based Inland American CFG Portfolio LLC, listed it for $3.25 million last June, according to the Providence Business News. The assessed value of the 50,000-square-foot building is $3.5 million.

The building is located across the street from the Providence Career and Technical Academy and within a short walking distance of Central High School, Classical High School and the Providence School Department.

Pinto said Achievement First is also looking into other buildings as part of its plan to grow to 3,112 students by the 2026-27 school year. The state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education has also approved the organization to open another school, but those plans have been delayed.

More than 700 students currently attend three mayoral academies operated by Achievement First – Providence Mayoral Academy Elementary, Providence Mayoral Academy Middle and Iluminar Mayoral Academy – out of the same building on Hartford Avenue. The schools serve students from Providence, Cranston, North Providence and Warwick, but the vast majority of the students live in the capital city.

The existing schools are already approved to serve students from kindergarten through eighth grade, although Achievement First’s oldest students are currently in the fifth grade. The organization plans to add a grade each year and ultimately wants to open a high school, as it has in New York and Connecticut.

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan