Date December 13, 2023
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Brown purchases its portion of South Street Landing in Providence’s Jewelry District

With a commitment to the long-term stewardship of the historic property and continued growth and vibrancy in the neighborhood, the University exercised an option to purchase its share of the building.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As part of its long-term commitment to investing in the economic and cultural vitality of Providence’s Jewelry District, Brown University has purchased the share of South Street Landing it has leased since the formerly vacant power station opened in its redeveloped form in 2017.

The University space includes 136,000 square feet on floors three, four, five and six, where nearly 500 Brown employees from a range of administrative units work.

Brown closed on the $54 million purchase on Tuesday, Dec. 12, executing a purchase option built into its original 15-year lease. The University acquired the space from CV South Street Landing, a subsidiary of real estate investment trust Ventas, which has owned South Street Landing since 2017. For the University’s portion of the building, Brown will directly assume the existing tax stabilization agreement in place with Ventas, ensuring continuity of tax revenue to the city.

The purchase adds to $341 million in prior Brown investments in the Jewelry District, which have sparked public-private partnerships that led to the development of the neighborhood’s most prominent projects. This includes becoming the anchor tenant in South Street Landing at the project's inception, as well as helping to attract Wexford Science & Technology, Ventas, Ancora L&G, the Cambridge Innovation Center and other partners to the state.

Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy at Brown, said the University's ongoing focus on strategic growth in the Jewelry District has helped to revitalize a once-quiet neighborhood, bringing new life into the surrounding community.  Nine administrative units have assignments in South Street Landing currently, and with hybrid work patterns leading to staggered in-office and remote days for people in many departments, the University is configuring shared space for additional administrative units in the coming months.

“Purchasing our space in South Street Landing — and optimizing it even further with an expanding number of employees assigned to the building who work hybrid schedules — will further enhance the neighborhood's vibrancy by boosting street-level activity,” Carey said. “As we consider Brown’s investments and footprint in the Jewelry District, we continue to do so with city and state goals in mind, including significant promise for increased economic activity.”

John Luipold, vice president for business affairs, auxiliary services and real estate at Brown, said the acquisition will reduce Brown’s costs in the long term and underscores the University’s commitment to the neighborhood.

“Brown is in the Jewelry District to stay,” Luipold said. “South Street Landing has served as a cornerstone for increased vibrancy in the neighborhood for a half decade already, and we look forward to that remaining the case for generations to come. We are committed to the long-term stewardship of this historic property, and we hope our presence continues to help attract new commercial investors and support the surge of research, innovation and entrepreneurship happening in the district.”

Anchoring Brown’s presence in the Jewelry District

Since 2017, Brown and the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center — operated jointly by the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College — have served as South Street Landing’s two major tenants. The building is considered a success story for economic revitalization.

After a successful run of nearly a century supplying electrical power across the area, the former South Street Power Plant shut down in 1995. For two decades, the hulking brick and stone Eddy Street building sat abandoned. Even so, the station had potential. As Brown completed the nearby Warren Alpert Medical School building in 2011, conversations about continued expansion into the Jewelry District were underway. The century-old power station would be essential to the neighborhood’s long-term vitality, University leaders knew. By 2013, a partnership to redevelop the building was underway, and Brown became the anchor tenant in a project being developed by CV Properties and Wexford Science & Technology.

Some six years later, after $220 million in redevelopment, Brown moved into the completely reimagined South Street Landing with a 15-year lease for 136,000 square feet of built-from-scratch office space. Hundreds of Brown employees have worked there daily in the years since. In 2019, the project to reimagine the former power station captured the nation’s top historic preservation award.

Employees relocating to South Street Landing early in 2024 will add to nearly 2,000 faculty, students and staff who work, teach and conduct research in the Jewelry District daily. Brown owns River House, a residential building immediately adjacent to South Street Landing, and a range of buildings used for medical education and research, among other nearby properties. A planned 300,000-square-foot, seven-story integrated life sciences building will be constructed on Richmond St. And the University is a major tenant in existing buildings like Wexford Science & Technology’s Point 225 building at 225 Dyer St. and an Ancora L&G building that will house new State Health Laboratories.

For employees who already work in South Street Landing, Brown’s acquisition will have no immediate practical impacts. The University will occupy the same physical spaces as it does currently, and building management operations will remain unchanged. Brown will co-own with Ventas all common spaces in South Street Landing and will share costs for maintaining them.

“Our initial lease at South Street Landing marked an initial commitment — this acquisition now demonstrates and builds upon Brown’s long-term interest in creating and sustaining a thriving Jewelry District,” Luipold said.