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$400 million Pawtucket soccer project closing in on final negotiations

Blackstone Valley

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) – The proposed $400 million waterfront development project in Pawtucket anchored by a professional soccer stadium is moving forward, as public and private officials say they’re close to finalizing negotiations related to the project.

R.I. Commerce Corp., Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien and Fortuitous Partners, the private developer of the so-called Tidewater Landing project, released a joint statement Tuesday saying the project has moved out of its so-called “due diligence” phase and could be finalized within the next two months.

Grebien also said a “more finalized lease agreement” for city-owned land on both sides of the Seekonk River will be completed ahead of a Pawtucket City Council meeting scheduled for Sept. 23.

“Development of the overall plan and structure of the Tidewater Landing project has made great progress in recent months and continues to move full speed ahead,” Grebien wrote in a Sept. 15 letter to the council. “It will transform our riverfront into the premier family destination in the region.”

The proposed development, which would be the largest in Pawtucket history, was proposed as a public-private venture costing $300 million for the developer and between $70 million to $90 million in public funding that would be covered by the state’s Tax Increment Financing program.

After rolling out the proposed development at the end of last year, Fortuitous and the state were supposed to complete the due-diligence period in April, but that got delayed because of the coronavirus public health crisis.

The group said work has continued throughout the summer, despite the pandemic.

“The City of Pawtucket, the State of Rhode Island and Fortuitous Partners have remained hard at work preparing to bring a world-class development to Pawtucket’s riverfront despite unprecedented times,” the group said in a joint statement.

The development would include a professional soccer stadium on one side of the Seekonk River, with a bridge connecting it to a riverwalk, hotel and retail space. The developer also proposed building on the Apex department store site to the north, but there’s no specific mention of that in the mayor’s letter to the City Council.  

“There’s no update on the Apex site at this time,” Grebien spokesperson Wilder Arboleda said.

Another big question mark surrounding the project has been related to a parcel of land owned by National Grid, the state’s largest utility, which needs significant environmental remediation.

The development group said remediation will begin at the end of the year, and “Grid and Fortuitous have also established a timeline for signing a final lease.”

Fortuitous is expected to provide a presentation laying out the terms of the deal during the City Council meeting on Sept. 23, according to the letter.

“Following our presentations and discussions with the Council, Fortuitous and the City will be fully engaging with the commitment to familiarize them with the plans, answer questions and gather feedback,” Grebien wrote. “This public engagement will be critical to the project’s success and we know that it is a priority of this council that the public process be open, transparent and engaging.”

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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