By JOHN HOWELL Three attributes were critical to the selection of 46 acres of farmland as the proposed site of a gigantic e-commerce distribution warehouse, says Kelly Coates, president of Carpionato Properties, owner of the land off Commerce Drive.
Three attributes were critical to the selection of 46 acres of farmland as the proposed site of a gigantic e-commerce distribution warehouse, says Kelly Coates, president of Carpionato Properties, owner of the land off Commerce Drive.
Coates said Monday that proximity to Green Airport and Route 37 with connections to interstates 95 and 295 and the property’s level terrain were major considerations to NorthPoint Development.
Based in Kansas City, NorthPoint has constructed more industrial square footage than any other developer nationwide, based on a study preformed by Real Capital Analytics.
Plans filed with the city Planning Department show a 541,000-square-foot warehouse/distribution facility with 116 loading bays, 124 trailer stalls and parking for 404 cars.
A Warwick resident, Coates promotes the development as a generator of jobs and tax revenues. He pointed out that in the wake of the pandemic, he expects many of the city’s businesses will seek tax abatements, thereby putting increased pressure on homeowners to underwrite municipal services.
Mayor Frank Picozzi, who spent nearly two hours this week reviewing proposed developments with the Planning Department, is likewise excited by the prospect of tax revenues and jobs. It’s premature to say what the development could mean in taxes, but if Coates’s proposed schedule becomes reality, the facility could be up and operating within a year.
“It’s one of those right-away things,” he said.
Formally owned by Confreda Farm and still used by Confreda to grow vegetables, the property was once talked about for a Home Depot. The site sparked additional interest when it was proposed that Route 37 be extended south to Warwick Avenue as part of a runway extension that would take a portion of Airport Road. The runway plan, one of several under consideration and one of the most costly because of the reconfiguration of highways, impact on wetlands and displacement of homes, was abandoned for a southerly extension of Runway 5-23.
With that extension enabling coast-to-coast non-stop flights, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation was hopeful of offering increased direct flights and transcontinental and international flights. A longer runway is also seen as opening opportunities for increased cargo flights and a larger cargo facility. The pandemic, however, has put those plans on hold.
In a statement, RIAC Director of Media and Public Relations John Goodman said,“T. F. Green Airport continues to work with cargo carriers and welcomes positive developments in local air cargo transportation. We have experienced a 12 percent increase in cargo at T.F. Green Airport in 2020. Although we’re unaware of any pending development cargo service announcements, we are confident that PVD’s competitive fees, airfield capacity and proximity to key transportation routes and distribution areas will continue to gain interest in this important economic sector.”
As the property is zoned Light Industrial, it would not require a zone change by the City Council. It is slated for master plan review by the Planning Board on Feb. 10. At that time, the board would get an overview of the proposal and likely raise questions such as the impact on traffic, storm water runoff and permitting from other entities including the state Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Management.
From master plan review, the project would come before the board for preliminary approval, at which time there would be expert testimony regarding issues raised during master plan review and recommendations of the Planning Board. Final approval would follow.
Asked as to who would occupy a warehouse covering more than 12 acres, Coates, the mayor and members of the Planning Department would only say an e-commerce warehouse/distribution facility.