CENTRAL FALLS — Cardi Construction has been hired by the city to perform remediation work on the Central Falls Landing project, a $4 million redevelopment initiative by Tai-O Group partners Louis Yip and Jevon Chan to convert the Central Falls Landing on the south bank of the Blackstone River into a vibrant commercial center.
Cardi was one of three firms to submit bids. The two others were D’Ambra Construction, and Lucena Bros., Inc.
The scope of the construction part of the project at the northwest corner of the intersection of Madeira Avenue and Broad Street will include the clearing, grading and paving of a parking facility and the installation of a building foundation and floor slab. The project will also include curbing, sidewalks, lighting, drainage and water quality infiltration systems, contaminated soil handling, and landscaping.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held at the vacant 40,956-square-foot three-story mill building in 2017. Actual construction to redevelop the landing into a commercial destination with public access to the river is now slated to begin this summer and be completed by the fall.
Two years ago, the City Council approved a ground leasing agreement between the city and the Tai-O Group for the existing building and parking lot at the landing, located at 1420 Broad St. The landing was built in 1875 and was previously the home to the American Supply Company, which operated as a steam-powered plant for the manufacture of loom reeds, loom harnesses, heddles, and leather belting. American Supply Company closed in 1961.
After its closing more than 55 years ago, the building and property was adapted for reuse by a braided rug factory that operated from 1963 to the early 1990s. After that, Scoop at the Falls, a small popular ice cream shop, operated in the building’s first floor until it closed in 2008. Since then, the building has remained vacant, boarded up and with overgrown vegetation reaching up to the building’s roof.
Tai-O Group’s plans call for major renovations, a restaurant, and microbrewery. The existing vacant three-story mill accounts for 3,880 square feet of space. Ultimately, it will be converted into banquet and restaurant space with use of the existing outdoor deck for special events. Plans also call for the construction of a new, one-story, 2,100-square-foot timber and glass building that will house two retail establishments near the corner of Madeira Avenue and Broad Street. The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council office space will be relocated there also.
The Tai-O Group, serving as general contractor on the renovation and building project, will have a 50-year land lease from Central Falls, which will retain ownership of the land and the docks at the river. Central Falls sold the building for $1 to the Tai-O Group and will receive annual rent equivalent to the taxes that would otherwise be collected.
At a meeting earlier this year, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to permit the Tai-O Group to construct a first-floor deck over city property as part of the renovation project. The developer is seeking to maximize views of the Blackstone River and additional seasonal restaurant seating by proposing to develop a ground-floor deck, which would project off the north side of the existing building over city property and the supports for the deck would rest on the structural supports for the city dock adjacent to the building and in the Blackstone River.
The adopted resolution authorizes Mayor James A. Diossa to enter into an easement agreement with Tai-O Group, which would allow the deck to be built.
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council President Robert Billington said that the access to the Blackstone River from the Madeira Avenue boat launch was the “first real public access to the river,” and “one of the few accesses on the 45-mile-long Blackstone River.”
“This is opening the front door of the Blackstone River,” Billington said of the impending work at the landing, saying that the project – once completed – will bring businesses, economic development, and tourism to a part of the Blackstone River.
The Tai-O Group is known for its conversion of the former Elizabeth Webbing Mills complex in Central Falls, now the M Residential luxury apartment complex.
This latest effort at 1420 Broad St. is part of the Broad Street Regeneration Initiative, an $11.5-million effort to improve the main street going through Pawtucket, Cumberland and Central Falls.
Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter @jofitz7