The head of the panel redeveloping former highway land in Providence says she’s hopeful that new approaches will spark more proposals for the site. I-195 Commission director Jan Brodie testified before a state Senate committee Wednesday.
Brodie cited a familiar double whammy in explaining why there hasn’t more interest from developers in land made available by the relocation of I-195: higher taxes and lower rents than can be charged in Boston or other nearby cities. Brodie said she expects things to pick up due in part to a $25 million in I-195 development incentives in Governor Gina Raimondo’s budget.
“My sense is that the incentive package that the governor’s budget is proposing, plus a tax deal, will get people interested. It will leverage and it will get people interested, which is what we need,” said Brodie.
A mixed use development and an apartment building are set to move ahead on the former I-195 land. Brodie is holding out hope that a life science company will add a location in Providence.
The Providence Journal reported last week that Cambridge Biolabs gave up efforts to build a laboratory on the I-195 land due to a lack of state support.
Brodie told the state lawmakers the commission remains interested in the Cambridge Biolabs project. She said things fell apart because Cambridge Biolabs couldn’t assemble the necessary financing.
“I stay in touch with them. I just call, I know who they talk to for construction prices. I know both the individuals, and I just call and give them pep talks. We definitely want them to come,” said Brodie.
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