Nearly 200 people—including Rhode Island’s governor, its two U.S. senators, and a horde of state and local politicians—turned out for the Sept. 25 groundbreaking of the 191,000-sf Wexford Innovation Complex, an $88 million campus in Providence that, when completed in 2019, will add to the growing stable of “knowledge communities” Baltimore-based Wexford Science + Technology has developed and manages.
The Innovation Complex—which will be constructed on nearly 26 acres of former Interstate 195 land at the heart of Providence’s Innovation and Design District—already has several high-profile tenants in tow. Johnson & Johnson is leasing 31,000 sf, and Brown University’s School of Professional Studies 50,000 sf on two floors.
The Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), a tenant in several other Wexford projects, will lease 63,000 sf. CIC plans to locate an 8,000-sf Innovation Hall and a Venture Café modeled after Cambridge’s District Hall in Boston’s Seaport District.
Ayers Saint Gross is the architect on the Innovation Center, Shawmut Design & Construction is the GC, and Odeh Engineers is the SE.
The Providence Journal reports that Wexford and its development partners, CV Properties in Boston and Southport in Connecticut, also plan to build an Aloft-branded hotel on this land. That would be in line with Wexford’s long-range strategy to position its knowledge communities as live/work/play neighborhoods. All told, the Providence project will total 287,000 sf on two parcels and cost $158 million.
“This represents another step forward in the development of a dynamic Knowledge Community that brings together intellectual capital, innovation and infrastructure to create a center of gravity and congregation that can give a sense of place to the growing innovation and entrepreneurial activities taking place in Providence and across Rhode Island,” said Jim Berens, Wexford’s President and CEO, during the groundbreaking ceremony.
The Providence complex is receiving $18.8 million in incentives from the 195 Redevelopment Fund and $13.5 million in net Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits, according to the office of Gov. Gina Raimondo, who has championed this development for two years.
The Innovation Center is projected to create over 675 direct and indirect construction jobs and lead to over 800 direct and indirect ongoing jobs, according Appleseed Inc., a third party economic analysis firm. The Center is also projected to generate $100 million in additional revenue for the state over the next two decades.
Wexford—which is owned by the REIT Ventas—and CV Properties have another knowledge community near completion in Providence’s Jewelry District: the $220 million, 420,000-sf South Street Landing, located on the Providence River waterfront. Brown University will lease 136,000 sf and plans to start relocating staff from 11 administrative departments to this building later this month. Another 130,000 sf will be leased for the Nursing Education Center, an initiative between Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island’s nursing programs.
There are two other buildings under construction within South Street Landing's proximity: River House, a 174-unit, 250-bed residence hall (Shawmut is GC and Spagnolo Gisness & Associates is the architect); and a seven-story, 744-slot parking deck.