Providence Community Health Center In Final Phase of $45M Project

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


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The Providence Community Health Centers nears completion with the final phase underway in South Providence.

Two health care institutions, a national retailer, and a major community economic development initiative announced their commitment to achieve the vision for reconnecting South Providence to the economic mainstream of the city and state. Under the umbrella of the broader Prairie Avenue Revitalization Initiative, the second and final phase of the $45 million development of the Federated Lithographers mill building is underway and stands as the largest private development project in South Providence. The site, inactive since the mid-1980s, was purchased by Providence Community Health Centers (PCHC) in August 2003.

The three key components of the project’s final phase include Lifespan’s relocation of several programs -- Community Health Services, the Rhode Island Hospital School of Diagnostic Imaging, the Lifespan Youth Development Program, and Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s renowned Children’s Neurodevelopment Center; Walgreens' construction of a 5,000-square-foot pharmacy store; and the Providence Community Health Center’s expansion of its dental clinic.

Phase 2 underway

Phase 2 of the project was recognized yesterday at a ground breaking ceremony at the 355 Prairie Avenue site. The event featured speakers from PCHC, Lifespan and Walgreens, as well as representatives from state and local government.

“We are excited to move forward onto the second and final phase of this project that is helping to spur much-needed economic development in South Providence,” said Merrill Thomas, Providence Community Health Center CEO, at the ground breaking ceremony. “The commitment of Lifespan to locate key educational, training, outreach, and clinical programs on the Federated site resulted in the organization being the largest tenant and partner in our collective effort to inform and serve the Greater South Providence community. They provided the essential impetus in our endeavors to secure the federal, private sector, and philanthropic investments necessary to making the overall development possible.”

Lifespan will lease 27,000 square feet of space in the Beaman and Smith Building located on the Federated site. And through its Community Health Services program, Lifespan plans to include a community resource room where neighborhood residents can come to do research on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, as well as two clinic rooms for immunizations and other screenings and tests. Lifespan also hopes to incorporate a kitchen to provide area residents with a place to learn about healthy cooking.

“Lifespan has long been a supporter of development in this neighborhood and we are pleased to have the second phase of this important project get underway. We hope that by moving key services, along with the employees who staff them, into this community, Lifespan is helping to generate more economic activity and better health for residents,” said Timothy J. Babineau, M.D., Lifespan’s president and CEO. “We recognize that we are now in a time when making these types of commitments will be difficult; however, Lifespan remains committed to helping in ways that will truly make a difference and we believe this project is an example of that.”

The support and direct participation of Lifespan was further strengthened by a long-term lease agreement from Walgreens. “With our existing relationship with Providence Community Health Centers in the federal 340b program, we look forward to providing their patients and the broader community with responsive and user-friendly pharmacy and related-retail services,” said Ralph Seavy, district manager, Walgreens.

Thomas said that Lifespan's current Dental Center on Broad Street will be relocated to the Federated site "as a means of integrating dental care services with primary care, behavioral health and community outreach.”

A boost for South Providence

The development of the Federated site has always been positioned as the necessary catalyzing agent to revive the downward spiraling economy of South Providence.

“The final phase development of the Federated Lithographers site, and the participation of Lifespan, Walgreens, and Providence Community Health Centers, are the transformative elements in moving South Providence from decades of isolation to a future of economic integration that will serve as a model for rebuilding the fabric of the city’s neighborhoods,” said Darrell Lee, president of BCOG Planning and Development, and founder of the Prairie Avenue Revitalization Initiative. “The culmination of these organizational investments in South Providence is historic and greatly anticipated by local businesses and residents.”

Neighborhood revitalization is an arduous and long-term process that faces a multitude of hurdles ranging from developmental uncertainty to the low risk tolerance of most traditional investors. With the longstanding involvement of Lifespan, the recent Walgreens’ lease, bank financing, federal economic development and environmental clean-up grants, and philanthropic contributions, the plan for the Federated site and vision to rebuild one of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods have become a most-awaited reality.

Since initial discussions in 2005, the elected officials of South Providence have worked with Lifespan and Providence Community Health Centers to provide the pieces of the puzzle necessary to laying the foundation for rebuilding South Providence. City Councilor Luis Aponte added, “With the Lifespan campus within one-half mile of the planned development of the Federated site, we believed that the health care industry would serve as the connective tissue to foster sustainable economic development and provide job opportunities for residents in South Providence. I am glad to see that day finally in sight.” 


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