PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Rhode Island government, higher education and business leaders gathered in South Street Landing’s soaring Dynamo Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 29, for a ribbon-cutting to signify the official opening of the renovated power station in Providence’s Jewelry District.
After a multi-year $220 million project, the long-abandoned former Narragansett Electric power station is now home to 11 Brown University administrative offices and the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center, a joint Rhode Island College and University of Rhode Island complex.
“South Street Landing is once again standing as a cornerstone of civic enterprise and purpose,” Brown President Christina Paxson said during remarks at the event. “It once again projects an image of solidity and purpose to the public, but it also projects an image of innovation and the kind of work that’s going to move Providence and Rhode Island continually forward… The city and state are on an upward trajectory, and this is a symbol of that.”
Early conversations about the potential to bring new life to the derelict power station began more than five years ago as Brown explored options to create housing for graduate and medical students following the 2011 opening of the Warren Alpert Medical School across the street. Making it a reality was the result of a public-private collaboration involving three universities, city, state and federal government, and private developers — a fact much noted in remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. It’s an example of the collaborative effort needed to move the state forward in the changing economy, said Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.
“A lot of people talk about the great things that can happen when everyone comes together,” she said. “We’re doing it. This is a symbol of what’s happening in our state… Rhode Island is unmistakably on the move.”
Raimondo added that South Street Landing serves as a metaphor for the shifting Rhode Island economy.
“This used to be a power station on the edge of a booming Jewelry District,” she said. “But as manufacturing changed and the jobs went away, the factories went silent. Today, we're changing the narrative. This empty power plant is now full of young people learning in-demand skills that will let them compete in the 21st century. I want to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to make this happen.”
Brown has leased 136,000 square feet of the 265,000-square-foot South Street Landing. Eleven offices, ranging from Human Resources and Finance to Communications and Advancement, will occupy four of the building’s six floors. Staff from 10 University departments have already moved into the building, with the remaining Brown occupants joining them on Dec. 1.
Relocating administrative offices to the building advances the University’s academic mission by freeing space on College Hill for undergraduate-focused academic pursuits and strengthening and concentrating its administrative functions, Brown officials noted. The move also reflects the University’s goal to catalyze economic growth in the Jewelry District, Providence and Rhode Island. Brown has invested more than $225 million in the neighborhood, including the state-of-the-art Warren Alpert Medical School building, the School of Professional Studies and the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine.
Moving forward, the University will be an anchor tenant, along with Cambridge Innovation Center and Johnson & Johnson, in a new Innovation Center being developed by Wexford Science & Technology on former I-195 land.