NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — An abandoned school building in Newport is set to find new life as home to an innovation incubator, businesses, and “co-working” or transient offices.
At the former Sheffield School property on Broadway, state leaders gathered Monday morning for a ground-breaking ceremony on the city’s Innovate Newport project. The event had been moved from a January date due to bad weather.
Work has already begun on the interior of the building. Cranston’s Pezzuco Construction was awarded the $6 million contract for it. They hope to complete all the rebuilding by December, before brutal cold returns.
Gov. Gina Raimondo said the project is expected to create 184 full-time jobs for Rhode Islanders, as well as generate $25 million in annual economic output. Mayor Henry Winthrop said the city is hoping the renovation will help jump-start some development.
The project will be targeting entrepreneurs in tech and creative industries for potential tenants, including – but not limited to – innovators in specialties like underwater technologies and cybersecurity.
One tenant is already planning to move in: the Newport County Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, Erin Donovan-Boyle, said her agency will be moving to the building once construction is complete.
Raimondo commended the roles played in bringing the project to fruition by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. David Cicilline, and state Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed. “When we started working together a few years ago we had the highest unemployment rate in the country. Now, we have more jobs [than] ever; more people working [than] ever in our state’s history.”