Housing demand brings long awaited residential development to Warwick City Centre
Developers will take the first step toward approvals to build three four-story buildings with a total of 260 apartments at Metro Center and Kilvert Street when they come before the Planning Board Feb. 9 to amend the Comprehensive Plan for the major land development. The project is one of several that aims to capitalize on the demand for housing and could provide the catalyst for the development of City Centre.
Considering two approved projects plus the apartments and potentially a fourth development, Warwick’s economic development director Bruce Keiser estimates there could be as many as 600 new residential units in or bordering City Centre.
“It would be a shot in the arm for the economic base for the area,” Keiser said. In addition to the 260 apartments, Keiser is looking at the 75-condo units under construction on Graystone and Kilvert Streets; conversion by Landing Partners, LLC of New York City of what started out as a Sheraton Hotel on Post Road into 181 workforce apartments and development of the former 6.5-acre Lars parking lot on Post Road. The Rhode Island Airport Corporation bought the Lars lot for $3 million in 2016 and agreed earlier this month to sell it to Skydra Development for $3.3 million. Future use of the site was described as “mixed-use” to RIAC.
The 21.7-acre site eyed for apartments is bordered by wetlands to the east, the Airport Connector to the south, Metro Center Boulevard to the west and Kilvert Street to the north. It is vacant land that has been cleared. It is owned by Michael Integlia and was bought as part of the former Leviton Manufacturing parcel that included the Elizabeth Mill on Jefferson Boulevard which has since been demolished. The mill site on the periphery of 90 acres rezoned for City Centre remains vacant with no known plans for development according to the Planning Department. Integlia could not be reached for comment on this story.
Integlia, who has built a number of the class A office buildings in Metro Center had plans for a 75,000-square foot office building, which gained Planning Board approval in June 2019. Now with the pandemic had taken the air out of office buildings and inflated the demand for residential, Integlia is turning to apartments.
Integlia and representatives of the A.R. Building Company of Seven Fields, PA came before planners to give an overview of the proposed apartment complex last fall. A.B. Building has since filed detailed plans for the project offering studio, one and two-bedroom rental apartments. Apartments would be on the second, third and fourth floors of the three buildings. Garages would be on the ground level with additional parking in lots in proximity to the buildings. No action was taken or expected at that pre-application presentation.
Located in Ward 3, the site is zoned general industrial, however, as City Planner Tom Kravitz pointed out on Friday with the ongoing demand for housing and the city’s interest to integrate residential properties in close proximity to City Centre, the city is looking to extend the Gateway Zone to encompass the site. The zone change would require City Council approval.
“It’s sort of a spider’s web,” Kravitz said of an extended Gateway Zone. Kravitz sees residential development whether apartments as proposed or condos as approved for Kilvert Street and single-family houses on Graystone Street as part of the fabric to the long-envisioned City Centre that has yet to blossom. The Interlink connecting the airport terminal and rental car facilities on Jefferson Boulevard was seen as the backbone to office, hotel, and retail developments spurred by easy access to the Interstate, airport, and MBTA commuter rail service to Boston. The first of those developments, years after designation of the intermodal zone, was the 160-room Hilton Garden Inn that Joe Piscopio opened in 2005. He sold it 13 years later to MCR Development LLC based in New York for a reported $52 million. It wasn’t until Michael D’Ambra of D’Ambra Construction opened a 125-room Hyatt Place on Jefferson Boulevard that City Centre saw its second hotel. The Hyatt opened in June of 2018.
Piscopio had talked about an apartment complex behind the Hilton Garden, but that plan never materialized. Then about three years ago Great Point Group operated by Robert Lamoureux advanced a proposal for 75 continuums on the outskirts of the City Centre that gained city approvals. Lamoureux is now in the process of 19 freestanding single-unit condos on Graystone Street. Another 56 townhouse units are planned for Kilvert Street. The first of the freestanding units is already well on its way to being completed.