In barely 15 minutes, the Planning Board heard and approved Tuesday a petition to subdivide the 80-acre Leviton manufacturing property, providing what Mayor Scott Avedisian called added “momentum” to the Warwick Station Development District and one of the state’s “most exciting” redevelopment plans.
With the approvals, developer Michael Integlia Jr. said he hopes “to close very quickly” on his agreement to buy the property that is best known for the historic Elizabeth Mill on Jefferson Boulevard across from the Interlink garage and commuter rail station. Once that happens, one of Integlia’s first actions will be the sale of 500,000 square feet of the sprawling building covering more than 10 acres to Dean Warehouse Services. Dean, which already operates from a portion of the building, plans to expand and relocate its operations from Lincoln to the Warwick site, according to Brad Dean, vice president of the company.
The subdivision is being hailed as a significant development for the city and its plans to capitalize on the confluence of highway, rail and air transportation. The property abuts the Station Development District, where mixed use of office, retail and residential space with hotels and restaurants would create a Warwick “Downtown.”
Calling the subdivision “very exciting” and the historic mill “a very important structure that fits into the master plan,” Zoning Board Chairman Phil Slocum said, “Great things are going to happen on that property.”
In an e-mail yesterday, Avedisian said, “Michael Integlia has stepped in with two plans. The first is a plan to have Coastway Credit Union construct a new regional headquarters in Metro Center that will be a great addition to the district. And the parcel that they are building on is near the Leviton building – building the synergy of the project and showing movement and momentum. Michael’s plan to subdivide the Leviton site into a number of parcels adds to the excitement of the district as well.”
Attorney Sanford Resnick outlined the subdivision for the board with Leonard Bradley of DiPrete Engineering tracing each of five lots on a drawing of the parcel. In addition to Jefferson Boulevard, the property is bounded by the Airport Connector to the south, Metro Center Boulevard to the west and Kilvert Street and Thurber Street to the north. The largest of the newly created lots – 36.5 acres – would remain undeveloped. The property has environmental issues related to the days of manufacturing. Sewer and electrical easements also run through the land.
Under the stipulations of the subdivision, Integlia must bifurcate the historic mill from the remaining portion of the building being bought by Dean within six months. The mill has about 100,000 square feet of space.
Integlia said Tuesday that he hasn’t developed plans for use of the space but that it could include a mix of offices, retail and possibly residential.
Regardless of his plans for the mill, or for any of the other parcels, Integlia’s company, MICO, LLC, will need to return to the city for approvals. Also, the company will be required to post a performance bond with the city.
The administration stepped up efforts to save the mill and its signature brick tower about this time last year when it learned another development company proposed tearing it down to reduce property taxes. The Leviton family applied for a demolition permit.
“That was denied. Instead, we worked diligently with them to show them that the taxes on raw land would actually be more than what they were paying now and encouraged them to develop a plan that included re-use of the mill,” Avedisian recounted.
He said the city held a series of meetings earlier this summer to discuss the possibility of subdividing the property with the goal of preserving the mill building.
“With Ocean State Theatre Company operating down the street, Salve Regina University operating a satellite campus in the district, the advent of Coastway Credit Union’s regional headquarters, and the preservation and redevelopment of the Elizabeth Mill, this is one of the most exciting redevelopment plans happening in Rhode Island,” the mayor said.