Governor Dan McKee announced today that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has taken the first step in making the proposed Dorrance Street Transit Center in Downtown Providence a reality. The process, which began this morning with the state transit agency publishing an on-line “Request for Expressions of Interest” (REOI) is designed to tap the expertise of private developers across the country for bold, innovative ideas to guide the construction and operations of the new facility.
“The Dorrance Street Transit Center is one more important part of our commitment to restore and revitalize Downtown Providence while we create the best possible transit experience for riders,” Governor McKee said. “This initiative is part of our larger vision for Providence, and our state, that includes our efforts to breathe new life into the Superman Building. Rhode Island has the momentum – we’re committed to keeping it going.”
“We are excited to be taking this first official step toward creating a state-of-the-art transit center that our passengers deserve,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA CEO. “The Dorrance Street Transit Center will dramatically improve the passenger experience in downtown Providence, while also accommodating for a growing transit system.”
The REOI invites interested parties from the private sector to submit concepts for the development of the new Transit Center under a joint development or public-private-partnership (“P3”) arrangement. The REOI is designed to gauge initial industry interest in the development opportunity, as well as to seek industry perspective and feedback on diverse project considerations. From there, the responses will help RIPTA plan and execute the Project.
The Dorrance Street Transit Center will replace Kennedy Plaza as RIPTA’s central bus depot. The proposal envisions a mixed-use development that will include an enclosed intermodal transit center and RIPTA administrative offices, as well as an adjacent mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD). In contrast to the current sprawling footprint of Kennedy Plaza, spread out across an urban park, the Transit Center will provide a single organized location.
Initially serving three million transit users annually, and considering anticipated growth, the transit center will feature a state-of-the-art passenger arrival and seating area with amenities and multi-modal accommodations for bicyclists. RIPTA is also weighing the creation of a public meeting space with an open-air terrace, as well as other amenities to serve the community at large. Additionally, the project is envisioned to include a multistory, mixed-use TOD development with first-floor retail and residential space on the upper floors, offering economic development opportunities for the city. The project may be implemented on a phased basis, in which case the new intermodal facility would be the top priority (Phase 1).
RIPTA has been engaged in numerous discussions over the past six months with state, local, and community leaders about the possibility of building a new, multistory, and mixed-use transit center at the intersection of Dorrance and Dyer Streets. The proposal has garnered broad-based public support.
The timeline for the effort has been expedited, at the direction of Governor McKee, with the deadline for submissions set for Monday, June 20, 2022. Prior to that, a virtual Industry Forum is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, 2022 where RIPTA, its advisors, and other sponsors of the Transit Center will present an overview of the Project for interested parties.
While details are continuing to be finalized, RIPTA currently envisions that following a competitive procurement, a single developer will be engaged under a joint development agreement for the design, construction, financing, operation, and/or maintenance of both the intermodal transit center and the multistory, mixed-use TOD development. RIPTA will retain ownership of the site, with a developer operating the facility under a ground lease.
RIPTA will define the public’s requirements for the Transit Center, but will seek to leverage private sector innovation and expertise in the design and construction of the facility. RIPTA will be responsible for its own operations at the new Transit Center, but the developer will be responsible for facility management and non-RIPTA operations (including commercial concessions) over the term of the agreement.
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