Tech complex developers get $20 million in state incentives

Markets Associated Press

Developers of a proposed technology complex have been awarded more than $20 million in state incentives to build the project, which state leaders hope will become a catalyst for economic revival.

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Two major tenants have already signed up to lease most of the future Wexford Science & Technology complex in Providence: the Cambridge Innovation Center, which leases workspace for startup entrepreneurs, and Brown University's School of Professional Studies.

The tech hub and an adjacent hotel will be built on land made vacant by the relocation of Interstate 195 just south of downtown. The project will join other developments proposed for the ribbon of former freeway land, including new condo high-rises, shops, university buildings, a public park and a pedestrian bridge built on hold highway piers over the Providence River.

About $20 million in funds approved on Monday by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission is just a portion of the incentives the tech center developers are requesting. The total amount of incentives is expected to be about $32 million.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday the new innovation center will be a "transformative project" creating hundreds of jobs. Anticipation about the complex has been growing since Raimondo first announced the seeds of the collaboration shortly after taking office last year.

The renderings unveiled this week are at a smaller scale than what was originally envisioned, but the involvement of the Cambridge Innovation Center was touted as a major victory. The company's original center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is known for helping to spawn startup businesses, and the concept has expanded elsewhere.

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The Providence facility, proposed by Baltimore-based Wexford and Boston-based developer CV Properties LLC, would break ground in 2017. It's expected to cost $150 million to build.

The complex would include a 170-room Aloft hotel.