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City Buys 5.4 Acres on Connell Highway from State for Development

Aerial Photograph of Site on MS Live Local

This is great news...another big site for development in the North End. It's an odd site, though, and on the surface isn't too pedestrian friendly...but we'll see what the RFP turns up.

Daily News article [1/06/07]

The regular budget hysteria post on KnowingNewport

Response by Councilwoman Jeanne Marie Napolitano on KnowingNewport

Excerpts from the NDN:

The city has agreed to buy 5.4 acres of land on Connell Highway from the state Department of Transportation for just more than $1.5 million, or $278,000 per acre. The land is located on the east side of Connell Highway, just north of the RK Towne Center shopping plaza and some mini-storage units, and across from the city's wastewater treatment plant. The state took the land by eminent domain from a business more than 35 years ago when the DOT was planning to extend the ramp from the Pell Bridge to West Main Road in Middletown. This land was going to be the site of an exit ramp. The City Council met in a special meeting Thursday night to approve the purchase. Once the purchase is completed and the city has ownership of the land, the city's Department of Planning, Zoning and Inspections will draw up criteria and accept requests for its development, he said. "Whether we sell the land or enter a long-term lease agreement, it will be additional property tax revenues for the city," [City Manager Ed]Lavallee said. Earlier last year, the city and BankNewport reached an agreement on five acres of city-owned land located at John H. Chafee Boulevard and Coddington Highway. The bank plans to build a three-story, 75,000-square-foot building on the lot that will serve as its administrative headquarters. The bank has a 99-year lease with the city to use the land. The city sought proposals for use of this land that would create jobs at the site, increase the city's property tax base and ensure the building is in context with local architectural design. The city asked that materials such as wood, stone and brick be used, and materials such as stucco, vinyl and plastic be avoided. Lavallee said a similar set of criteria would be drawn up for the 5.4 acres of Connell Highway land.
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  • 1 month later...

In today's Daily News:

Plan said to create 1,200 jobs, tax relief

Parsons Brinckerhoff is presenting its North End Master Plan to the City Council tonight.

Consultants hired by Newport say the redevelopment of parcels freed up by a reconfiguration of the Pell Bridge ramps and the former Naval Hospital site would yield about $1.7 million annually in new real estate taxes and create about 1,200 permanent jobs.

The consultants recommend the council make zoning changes in the area and implement design guidelines "to make certain that new land uses and the urban form desired are realized." They say, "The north end represents the only area of the city with potential to configure large parcels of land for future redevelopment."

The Naval Hospital site is zoned R-10, meaning residential development on 10,000-square-foot lots. Reserving 20 percent of the available area for streets and other infrastructure, the site could be developed into a maximum of 26 lots, according to the consultants. The consultants recommend instead a mixed-use development of the property that would be allowed if this were converted to a waterfront business district.

The consultants have proposed 100 condominiums and a 100-room boutique hotel for this site, with public access along the waterfront that would feature a park and a marina.

On the 19 acres west of Newport Grand, the consultants envision a town center that takes inspiration from centers such as Mashpee Commons on Cape Cod and Birkdale Village in Charlotte, N.C. These open-air "lifestyle retail centers" are modeled after traditional downtowns with mid-size and small stores, restaurants and cafes and well-designed streetscapes. There also would be on-street parking.

"The retail uses would occupy 200,000 to 250,000 square feet of floor space offering large floor plates not available in historic buildings in downtown Newport," according to the master plan.

There would be a North End Transit Center next to the parking garages and existing railroad corridor. From the center would be shuttle bus service to the Gateway Visitors Center downtown. There also would be a station platform for the rail shuttle that Robert Andrews of the Newport Dinner Train is planning.

For the 12-acre parcel north of Admiral Kalbfus Road, the consultants have recommended construction of either a large indoor recreation center such as Forekicks in Norfolk, Mass., or a 40,000-square-foot indoor water park and attached 200-room hotel. Water park complexes have proven popular for families as a year-round attraction in some cold-weather locales.

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Article in the paper today said that, basically, the Navy is eons away from deciding whether the Naval Lodge site on West Main or the Hospital will be excessed, but the Naval Lodge site will - they're 99.9% sure - eventually be given over to the town. The Hospital site isn't such a sure bet.

Regardless, here's a thought: if the Hospital site were (one day) to be given up to the city, perhaps the city could interest Sail Newport in expanding its youth programs to an additional site at the Hospital? I remember a couple years ago Sail Newport proposed using Storer Park, and naturally Point residents yelled bloody murder. Like Storer Park, the Naval Hospital already has a large pier. However, the site is already developed (ie, not a park), and it can provide ample parking space (unlike Storer Park.)

Sail Newport is already squeezed for space, and their site isn't particularly accessible to kids (who don't tend to live on Ocean Drive) during the summer. The chapel already on-site at the Hospital could be converted to a building for Sail Newport. With a youth and dinghy program at the Hospital, they can expand their big-boat services at the Fort.


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