The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) Board of Directors voted today (unanimously) to engage Next Wave Rhode Island Partners in a public-private partnership (P3) to design and construct a new downtown transit center in Providence.
Next Wave Partners is a consortium comprised of a number of Rhode Island-based companies including Gilbane Development Company, Marsella Development and Gilbane Building Company, as well as Plenary Americas, CUBE 3, and Jacobs. Successful community-based projects from these subsidiaries include 100 Westminster Street, Union Station, the Providence Performing Art Center, and the Nightingale Apartments in downtown Providence.
“Developing a new downtown transit center will significantly improve the public transit experience for RIPTA riders, while creating more opportunities for mixed-use development downtown,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Modernizing our transit system and providing upgraded amenities will attract more riders, reduce cars and emissions on our roadways, reducing harmful environmental impacts. This project will benefit downtown, Rhode Island’s economy, and our environment.”
“With smart investments, Rhode Island’s transit system can expand and modernize to meet the needs of our workforce and climate goals,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA CEO. “A new downtown transit center is a major step in strengthening our transit system and expanding opportunities through transit-oriented development.”
“RIPTA riders deserve more than what our current transit center at Kennedy Plaza can offer, Avedisian added. “Next Wave Partners shares our vision for bringing state-of-the-art amenities to downtown. Together, we look forward to engaging the community in the design and planning process.”
The new transit center will serve as RIPTA’s central bus depot, providing millions of trips annually, and considering anticipated growth, the transit center will feature a state-of-the-art temperature-controlled passenger arrival and seating area, staff break areas, and amenities including multi-modal accommodations for bicyclists.
The project also envisions a mixed-use transit-oriented development to include first-floor retail and residential housing on the upper floors, offering economic development opportunities for the city. In contrast to the current sprawling footprint of Kennedy Plaza, which is spread out across an urban park, the Transit Center will provide a single central location. Kennedy Plaza will continue to serve a reduced number of routes.
Using a progressive P3 model, RIPTA and Next Wave Partners will work together in two phases to complete the new transit center, a common model for larger infrastructure projects. This approach will ensure RIPTA has input at all stages of the development and can access the private-sector funding and expertise needed to successfully deliver a project of this scale.
In the first phase, RIPTA and Next Wave Partners will work to complete a site assessment and acquisition, public engagement, and a progressive design for the project site. Upon successful completion of the first phase of the project, the parties will work together in phase two to finance and construct the project.
RIPTA has been engaged in numerous, lengthy discussions over the past year with state, local and community leaders about building a new, multistory, mixed-use transit center in downtown Providence. The proposal has garnered broad-based public support. The project, in part, is supported by a bond referendum to improve RIPTA’s transit services via a new transit center in the downtown area. On January 17, Governor Dan McKee announced the opening of the Request for Proposals period. Submissions were due on April 17, 2023.
In the coming months, RIPTA and Next Wave Partners will launch a robust public comment period to gather stakeholder input for designs for the new transit center.