SSL Partner, LLC, an affiliate of Wexford Science & Technology, is proposing an approximately $105 million commercial development on former I-195 land in Providence. The project is an approximately 191,000 SF ground-up construction Innovation Center office building focusing on the life sciences. The Innovation Center is anchored by Brown’s School of Professional Studies, Johnson & Johnson, and the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC).
CIC is the nation’s preeminent incubator with several locations around the country and headquartered in Kendall Square in Cambridge. They have an extensive proven track record in helping develop some of the most innovative and well known entrepreneurs. Their business model seeks to consolidate entrepreneurs and early stage companies, facilitating as many “collisions” as possible to foster a creative and stimulating environment.
In addition to approximately 65,000 SF of office space, CIC will also operate an on-site café and District Hall, a two-story public meeting space, which will facilitate gathering and collaboration among local entrepreneurs. Although not immediately part of this project, Phase 1 is also expected to include an approximately $50-58 million, 160-175 room hotel and retail development, which is expected to break ground after the Innovation Center.
Located in the Jewelry District and near the future pedestrian bridge that will span the Providence River and connect the area to the East Side, the project will be a cornerstone of the Innovation and Design District and will help anchor further redevelopment in Providence. Additionally, the project will reactivate a vacant parcel in the heart of Providence, create high quality office space, and help to foster innovation.
The 195 Commission granted final approval for $18.8 million in incentives from the 195 Project Fund in July, 2017.
The Sponsor is seeking approximately $13.5 million in Rebuild RI tax credits, on a net basis, and a rebate on state sales and use taxes on construction materials, to fill a financing gap. In order to address this financing gap, the Sponsor is seeking the Commerce Corporation to authorize up to approximately $15.0 million gross tax credits, which will be reduced by a 10% redemption discount, which is retained by the State.
Additionally, the Sponsor is seeking authorization to pursue Tax Increment Financing (TIF) when the proposed approximately $50-58 million, 160-175 room hotel, currently in development, is ready to proceed. Any net proceeds from the TIF incentive would reduce the amount of Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits for the Innovation Center on a dollar for dollar basis.
The office building is being developed by Wexford, which has extensive experience successfully executing similar developments with a life science focus. Similar past projects include the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis, MO; City Square in Philadelphia, PA; and the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem, NC. CV is the lead on the hotel development. Wexford and CV are also partners on the South Street Landing project in Providence’s Jewelry District.