Tidewater Landing project, with soccer stadium and 500 apartments, breaks ground

·5 min read

PAWTUCKET — A sea of white hardhats and neon vests marked the groundbreaking ceremony for the Tidewater Landing soccer stadium and mixed-use development in Pawtucket that has taxpayers pitching in with a $36-million bond.

Fortuitous Partners held the ceremony at the site on Friday, which sits next to the Seekonk River. The project is projected to cost $124 million, a price tag driven up by inflation, supply chain issues and rising construction costs.

While the hallmark of the Tidewater Landing project will be a soccer stadium, projected to atract 7,600 spectators each game, the plan also calls for 500 apartments in a mix of one- to three-bedroom units, and commercial spaces.

Among the sea of hardhats and neon vests were students, from middle school to graduate school, wearing their jerseys.

July 25, 2022: Pawtucket soccer stadium moves ahead on McKee tiebreaking vote

Johnson and Wales University soccer players Richard Africo, Caroline Wallace and Jordan Restivo showed up for the groundbreaking. Africo, a graduate accounting student, said he would jump on the chance to play professionally, even though that may not come.

Restivo, who has played semipro soccer, said she would absolutely become a professional athlete if a slot opened up, as would Wallace.

Gov. Dan McKee, speaking at the event, said the state's support of the project comes in the context of the support for many other private projects in the state, and of new infrastructure in Pawtucket, like the commuter rail line connecting to Boston.

"This project is about jobs and helping a city that was left behind," he said.

The stadium could open as soon as 2024.

Making downtown Pawtucket pedestrian-friendly

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien said in an interview that the project is part of a larger plan for a pedestrian-friendly corridor leading to Pawtucket's downtown.

Just a short distance away and across Interstate 95 is the landmark Apex building, which the city bought for $17.7 million and hopes to redevelop.

About a mile away as the pedestrian walks is the new Pawtucket-Central Falls commuter rail station, with a terminus in Boston.

Mills being turned into housing will bring more foot traffic into Pawtucket's downtown and create a walkable area along the river, bringing in the traffic businesses in Pawtucket need to survive, Grebien said.

You can't get there from here, without I-95: How Interstate 95 became integral to life in Rhode Island

Interstate 95 cut through Pawtucket, and projects to build a corridor that can be used by pedestrians and bicyclists would go a long way toward healing that cut.

What's proposed in the Tidewater Landing project

The proposed Tidewater Landing project is a lot more than a stadium on Taft Street in Pawtucket. The proposal now contains 500 units of housing to be built next to a parking garage; a pedestrian bridge; a small riverfront amphitheater; river walks on either side of the river; and restaurants and retail spaces, according to a master plan presentation.

What was once a brownfield will be turned into a soccer stadium, after construction started at the Tidewater Landing project in Pawtucket on Aug. 12.
What was once a brownfield will be turned into a soccer stadium, after construction started at the Tidewater Landing project in Pawtucket on Aug. 12.

The site of the stadium, with the field markers laid out in white on a black surface, is a brownfield that used to be home to National Grid's oil tanks and is now being remediated by the company.

July 26, 2022: Good deal or own goal? The Pawtucket soccer stadium is on again

The pedestrian bridge could connect the Taft Street developments to developments on School Street, on the opposite side of the river.

For commercial space, 60,000 square feet is planned, along with 57,000 square feet of shopping and restaurant space and a 750-space parking garage.

$36 million bond to pay for the stadium

The estimated cost for the stadium, $124 million to seat 10,500 at capacity, could be the most expensive for a team in the United Soccer League Championship, or USL, the second tier of American professional soccer.

That price tag was originally projected to be lower, $84 million in 2021, but rising construction costs pushed up the price. The total cost of the development also rose from $284 million to $400 million.

Housing has long been a part of the the mixed-use project and a $36-million bond passed by the state had been intended to prop up the housing units but instead will go toward paying for the stadium, after McKee cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the public financing plan on July 25.

Opinion/Patinkin: Shades of the PawSox, as RI pols pile on against the new soccer stadium

Total public commitments to the stadium, including tax credits, state and city funding, is estimated at about $60 million.

The Tidewater Landing project hasbeen started  officially following a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 12 in Pawtucket.
The Tidewater Landing project hasbeen started officially following a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 12 in Pawtucket.

Pawtucket is contributing $9 million to the project and a tax treaty that will save Fortuitous $15 million over 20 years, per a presentation in June to the state Commerce Corporation.

The biggest chunk of public funding would come from a Tax Increment Financing plan, where taxes collected in neighborhoods around the stadium would be diverted to repay construction debt.

Interested in Tidewater Landing? See all our previous coverage

Opinion/Patinkin: Shades of the PawSox, as RI pols pile on against the new soccer stadium

July 26, 2022: Good deal or own goal? The Pawtucket soccer stadium is on again.

July 25, 2022: Pawtucket soccer stadium moves ahead on McKee tiebreaking vote.

June 24, 2022: Seeing soccer stadium site up close with Pawtucket mayor, who worries state won't step up.

June 14, 2022: Future of Pawtucket soccer stadium development still in doubt after Commerce Board meets.

June 7, 2022: Pawtucket soccer stadium backers seek $30 million more from RI.

May 31, 2022: Will RI taxpayers help cover rising cost of Pawtucket soccer stadium?

May 27, 2022: Pawtucket soccer stadium cost rises to $124 million due to supply chain issues, inflation.

May 16, 2022: Is the Pawtucket soccer stadium plan in trouble?

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Reach reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at wcowperthwaite@providencejournal.com or follow him on Twitter @WheelerReporter.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Pawtucket soccer stadium, apartment project breaks ground