Gilbane starts advance work on new nursing school

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The developer turning the old South Street Power Station into a new educational complex said site mobilization work began Thursday as efforts to secure financing continue.

CV Properties LLC, a Connecticut-based developer, struck a deal last year to turn the huge, decaying building along the Providence River into a 265,000-square-foot complex called South Street Landing, which will combine a new state nursing school with administrative space for Brown University. The $220-million project will also include housing for graduate students and a parking garage.

CV spokesman Eric Cote acknowledged Thursday the company has yet to close on private financing for the project, although the state and Brown have already agreed to lease the space once it’s built.

“We have not closed yet, but we are working towards that closing,” Cote told WPRI.com. “We’ll be making an announcement when we get to that point during the next few weeks. But we have not announced that yet, and we will not have those details until we actually complete the closing.”

Cote said contractor Gilbane Building Co. began site mobilization at the old power station on Thursday “in anticipation of that closing and full-scale construction.” The initial steps will involve securing the site in preparation for building, he said.

“The South Street Landing project remains on schedule for completion in late 2016 to allow classes at the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center to begin at the start of the Spring 2017 semester,” Cote said. The original agreement called for classes to start in either the fall of 2016 or the spring of 2017, he said.

Local leaders participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking for South Street Landing last December, but actual construction did not begin at the time. Brown President Christina Paxson has called it a “highly complex project.”

The South Street Power Station was in use from 1912 until it was decommissioned in the early 1990s. A previous $150-million plan to turn it into a hotel and museum, dubbed Dynamo House, was abandoned in 2008 once the Great Recession took hold.

CV Properties and its president, Dick Galvin, made headlines last week with its plan to partner with Wexford Science & Technology in developing a million-square-foot life-sciences complex on the old I-195 land. Gov. Gina Raimondo expressed cautious optimism about the proposal, which will now be reviewed by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission.

Separately, the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox have said they want to work with CV to expand its proposal for a parking garage as part of South Street Landing to accommodate fans at the team’s hoped-for new ballpark downtown.

CV Properties’ other local projects have included the GTECH and One Financial Plaza buildings downtown.Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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