courtesy of Northeast Collaborative Architects and Studio Troika

Innovate Newport, which expects to open on May 1, is among the winners of Grow Smart RI’s eighth annual Rhode Island Smart Growth Awards, honoring those helping to shape an economically and environmentally stronger Rhode Island through innovative leadership, revitalization, policy and planning initiatives.

  Former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis will deliver the keynote address at the April 30 awards event at the Pavillion at Grace, 300 Westminster Street, Providence.  The event is expected to attract several hundred Rhode Island business, civic and elected leaders, development and real estate professionals, architects, builders, conservationists, policy advocates and community stakeholders.

“Each year, passionate, creative and resourceful Rhode Islanders show us the way to tap our state’s full potential through projects, plans and policies that play to Rhode Island’s strengths and generate enduring economic benefits, both statewide and in specific neighborhoods,” said Grow Smart’s Executive Director Scott Wolf. 

Grow Smart’s honorees are:

Outstanding Smart Growth Leaders: Barbara Fields, former CEO, RIHousing.

Outstanding Smart Growth Projects: South Street Landing – Providence; Pascoag Village: Fernwood & Greenville Commons – Burrillville; Innovate Newport – Newport; and 60 King – Providence.  

In its description of Innovate Newport, Grow Smart is celebrating the city’s transformation of a “North End historic school building into a hub for the region’s growing innovation economy. Dubbed Innovate Newport, the $8 million project renovated and repurposed the former Sheffield Elementary School into a 33,000-square foot Class A co-working, private office, and meeting space.” It also noted its concentration on marine sciences and underwater technology in a collaborative environment.

South Street Landing, developed by CV Properties of Boston and now owned by Chicago’s Veritas Inc., transformed a power station that had been vacant for two decades into the home for many of Brown University’s administrative staff and a state-of-the-art nursing education facility for Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island.

Pascoag Village: Fernwood & Greenridge Commons, Burrillville, includes a 96-unit rental housing development, and a 15-unit ‘self-help’ (sweat equity) homeownership development. Greenridge Commons is a $28 million development combining 75 townhouse-style apartments and 21 apartments and 7,000+ square feet of commercial space on Pascoag Main Street. 

  60 King, Providence converted a vacant historic mill building into 60 units of mixed-income rental housing. Trinity Financial undertook 60 King in collaboration with two Providence-based community development corporations: ONE Neighborhood Builders (ONE NB) and SWAP, Inc.  The project was made possible through a blend of low-income housing tax credits, federal historic tax credits, state historic tax credits, soft loans from Rhode Island Housing and the City of Providence, and a grant from RIDEM’s Brownfield Remediation and Economic Development Fund. The $22.5 million 60 King development is among the first projects in the multi-phase redevelopment of Olneyville.

Outstanding Smart Growth Policies / Plans: Town of Warren; University of Rhode Island Transportation & Parking Master Plan – South Kingstown 

Grow Smart is recognizing Warren for a series of measures that support workforce housing, preparing infrastructure to be resilient to climate change, small business development, bicycle tourism, and smart siting of renewable energy – and is addressing them comprehensively.  Examples include the Town’s forward looking upgrades to its water treatment facility designed to anticipate 40 year sea level rise, its partnership to develop a solar installation at the former landfill which is powering 80 percent of the Town’s needs at reduced rates, its application and implementation of a Main Street Rhode Island grant to improve the streetscape and walkability of Downtown and its plan to better connect local businesses with the popular East Bay Bike Path.

The University of Rhode Island’s Transportation and Parking Master Plan, Grow Smart said has resulted in a more flexible, efficient and effective campus shuttle service, automated license plate recognition parking and improved transportation signage, the implementation of “complete streets” in the design for the reconstruction of Upper College Road, electric charging stations, and the reduction of single occupancy vehicles on campus in partnership with RIPTA’s UPass program. The Transportation and Parking Master Plan was created in conjunction with the Landscape Master Plan completed in 2017, making for a more pedestrian friendly community with a distinct sense of place.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.