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The former 25-acre jai alai property, now owned by Carpionato Corp., sits vacant on a rise overlooking the Pell Bridge. It was the center of redevelopment talk once Twin River decided to move its Newport casino to Tiverton, selling the property to Carpionato.

The corporation had produced an aggressive mixed-use plan for the former casino property, which the city put it all on hold to develop its North End Urban Plan that would include mixed use zoning. It was to be a blueprint for development of one of the few remaining developable areas in the city.

That was all before the pandemic. Promises of a short-lived building moratorium were forgotten as the city sought to determine how it could move forward. Meanwhile, Carpionato was concentrating on numerous other development projects, according to city officials.

Now, with the Urban Plan approved and North End Transportation and citywide Transportation studies underway, city officials are looking forward to the resumption of development, but without any timeframe.

“There has been little in the way of conversations or hearing from the Carpionatos, as I realize with Covid they have been struggling with their other assets, so I’m not surprised,” said Mayor Jeanne Napollitano. “The Council has been involved in the Transportation Plan in the North End and it seems to be a priority with DOT (Department of Transportation.”

That’s a project that’s underway, along with a larger development of a city-wide transportation plan. In April, the town hired Toole Design Group to help develop the plan.

Toole design is a national company with offices around the country, including Boston.

Sources within city hall said the Transportation Master Plan is in its early stages for a project expected to take two years.

City officials are putting in place what they say is the “foundation for development.” Here’s some of what has and will be happening.

  • The Planning Board will hold a virtual meeting on July 12 to discuss zoning changes that have come from the approved North End Urban Plan. The Planning Board will then submit its recommendations to the City Council.
  • The North End Urban Plan, which becomes part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, has been approved locally and by the state.
  • The North End Transportation Plan is the focus and apparent priority now, in completing that foundation for North End development.
  • The citywide Transportation Master Plan is still in its early stages, and officials said it will explore all forms of transportation, from bicycles and pedestrians to trolleys. It will look at parking issues, and possibilities of turning one-way streets into two-way streets, or even in some cases turning streets into pedestrian walkways. In other words, everything is on the table for what is considered “really only a problem in the summer.”
  • In all aspects, city officials said they are and will be seeking input from residents.
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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.