Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency chairman concerned over troubled soccer stadium project
Hints at need to pressure developers if financial woes continue
Speaking to reporters at Pawtucket City Hall Tuesday, Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency Chairman Lawrence Monastesse says he has concerns about the private funding problems for the Tidewater Landing project. (Photo by Nancy Lavin/Rhode Island Current)
With financing woes delaying kickoff of the Pawtucket soccer stadium project, there’s not much to do, or say.
Which is why the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency never actually talked about the Tidewater Landing project during its Tuesday meeting, even though a closed-door discussion was included in the agency’s meeting agenda.
Bianca Policastro, city planning director, said the executive session discussion of the riverfront development project is listed on the agenda every time the agency meets, though they don’t talk about it every time. Which doesn’t mean they’re not watching it closely.
Speaking to half a dozen reporters after the meeting, Lawrence J. Monastesse, chairman of the agency, said had concerns about the developer’s lack of progress in raising private funds for the project.
News broke last week that developer Fortuitous Partners is still trying to attract investors to pitch in for its portion of the project. Meanwhile, the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency has yet to issue the $27 million in state government bonds helping pay for the stadium, despite being authorized to do so under updated agreements approved by the Pawtucket City Council in December.
Grace Voll, a spokesperson for Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, said Tuesday that the city was delaying issuing the bonds until Fortuitous raises its share of the money.
“We all want to close at the same time,” Voll said.
Monastesse also blamed rising interest rates as the reason why the bond sales have been pushed off.
“We have to let the process play out,” he said.
But, he added “at some point, we can put pressure on them,” referring to the developer.
The riverfront redevelopment project has been plagued by delays and financial troubles since it was picked through a competitive bidding process in 2019. Financed through a public private partnership, the entire project – which includes apartments, offices, commercial and infrastructure improvements – relies on private investor money plus city and state bonds, which are to be repaid using revenue generated from the project. Meanwhile, the United Soccer League Team, Rhode Island FC, has ramped up marketing and staffing in preparation for a 2024 season start, although it may not be at the designated stadium site.
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