What is Tidewater Landing?
Tidewater Landing is the largest economic development project in the history of Pawtucket. The proposed $400 million investment is an historic opportunity to completely transform Pawtucket’s riverfront, while supporting jobs and economic growth in the Blackstone Valley and Rhode Island. The main components are:
- United Soccer League Stadium (USL)
- Lifestyle Center (residential, retail)
- Indoor Event Center and Hotel
Initially, Tidewater Landing will include two locations:
- The Tidewater site west of the Blackstone River below Taft Street, where the stadium will be located;
- East of the River below School St. in the area of Festival Pier, which will include residential and retail.
Eventually, the former Apex site may also be included in Tidewater Landing, and host an indoor event center and hotel.
The Tidewater Landing project will include key public infrastructure investments and new developments which will transform the underutilized Pawtucket riverfront into a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly corridor. These investments include a pedestrian bridge spanning the Seekonk River that will reconnect Pawtucket to its riverfront. Riverwalks will also be developed on both sides of the river.
What is the current status of the project?
A due diligence period of 120 days was commenced on December 2, 2019. At that time the parties committed to negotiate in good faith to reach a definitive agreement during which project scope and program, land assembly study, project economics, and market dynamics will be further refined.
Who are Fortuitous Partners?
Fortuitous Partners is an investment firm that invests in real estate developments and operating businesses, particularly in sports anchored mixed use real estate projects. The principals of Fortuitous have decades of experience in real estate, public and private company operations, private equity, fund management, and tax incentive counsel.
Brett M. Johnson, Fortuitous Partners, Founder and Principal, is also co-chairman and shareholder of Phoenix Rising Football Club (PRFC), the current Regular Season Champion in the USL Championship Division. In three short years, PRFC has revitalized professional soccer in Phoenix with consistent sell-out crowds, a North American soccer record of 20 consecutive wins and a Western Conference Championship trophy. Fortuitous Partners, which has the exclusive rights to bring a USL Championship League team to Rhode Island, are excited to bring the same level of enthusiasm, community engagement and performance to Pawtucket that the fans in Phoenix have enjoyed.
For additional information please see our About Fortuitous page.
What are some of the key components and details of the Tidewater Landing proposal?
Over the long term, the developers are prepared to invest over $300 million in Tidewater Landing. In the initial phase, nearly $200 million of private funds will be invested between the Tidewater and Division St. sites. In addition to a 7,500 seat USL Stadium, the current proposal envisions:
- A substantial mixed-use development with more than 200 housing units and 100,000 square feet of retail, food and beverage, and other community space.
- An indoor sports event center
- A 200 room hotel
- 200,000 square feet of commercial office space
Another key element of the proposal is Fortuitous Partners’ relationship with the United Soccer League and their plan to bring a Championship League soccer franchise to Pawtucket. Today, Rhode Island is among the Top 10 markets for televised soccer in the country, and the largest market without a professional soccer franchise.
In addition to being home to a USL soccer team, the stadium will also be available for other uses like concerts and public sports uses including soccer, football, lacrosse, rugby and field hockey.
What is the status of each of the three proposed sites?
The developers plan to make a long-term investment in Pawtucket by using key sites on the riverfront and downtown. The proposal goes well beyond a stadium and includes recreation, business and retail space creating a hub of activity.
Each of the sites is discussed below:
- Tidewater: The 17.1 acre Tidewater site includes two parcels, one owned by the City of Pawtucket (5.35 acres) and the other by National Grid (11.75 acres). The preliminary agreement anticipates the National Grid-owned land being subject to a long-term ground lease. To date, all parties have engaged in productive preliminary conversations in furtherance of the development plan for the Tidewater site.
- Division St.: The Division St. site is owned by the City of Pawtucket. It is 10.77 acres.
- The Apex site is privately owned and is 12.19 acres.
Are there are any environmental challenges on the sites?
The conditions of the sites are typical of highly industrialized communities, like Pawtucket. The environmental challenges on the Tidewater site are well documented and the owner of the property, National Grid, has engaged in a decades-long remediation planning process. Our proposal for the Tidewater site is generally consistent with existing plans by National Grid and the City to remediate the site. We look forward to working closely with them to return the Tidewater site to a beneficial community use.
How will this project support the local and state economy?
The proposed private investment is the largest in Pawtucket’s history and will be a monumental boost to the local economy. The development will draw local, regional, and national foot traffic to Pawtucket. The future Pawtucket/Central Falls train station provides a close connection to mass transit for visitors and residents to travel seamlessly.
Based upon initial economic impact analysis drawing upon these figures, the full project would generate public revenues of approximately $100 million over 10 years and add over $130 million to state GDP annually.
The initial phases of the project would create 1,200 permanent jobs and 2,500 temporary jobs, such as construction jobs.
What sports and other events will take place at the stadium?
The developers propose the construction of a rectangular, multi-sport stadium anchored by USL Championship League soccer. Unlike a baseball diamond, a rectangular stadium can accommodate multiple sports (e.g. lacrosse, football, rugby) and can more easily accommodate large non-sports events (e.g. concerts, festivals).
The developers are also proposing an event center to accommodate indoor courts and fields, tournaments and events that will drive regional crowds to the downtown area.
What will be the total investment in the project?
Over the long term, Fortuitous is committed to investing over $300 million in private funds in Pawtucket for the construction of Tidewater Landing and related costs.
The public investment for this project will be primarily focused on infrastructure development, a fundamental responsibility of government. While the total amount of the public investment is to be determined during the due diligence period, the public investment is expected to be approximately 20% of project costs, or in the range of $70 to $90 million total. It is anticipated that $60-$80 million of that total will be derived from State revenue. Actual public investment will be determined based on factors such as site conditions, parking needs, and other project-specific considerations. The state’s investment will be made based upon completion of project phases and milestones which will be confirmed during the due diligence period.
How will the City and State pay to prepare the roads, bridges and other infrastructure in the area in order to benefit from the project?
The infrastructure work, a basic task of government, will be paid for through a “TIF”, which stands for tax incremental financing.
Simply, the tax revenues generated from the project will be invested back into public infrastructure in the immediate area – for example, roadway construction, parking, stormwater management, parks and greenways, etc.
The type of public investment in public infrastructure envisioned at Tidewater Landing would likely be necessary for any economic initiative on these sites to succeed. Recently, the General Assembly provided new financing authority for the Growth Center District in Pawtucket, where all three sites are located, to spur economic activity. The Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency will finance public investment through revenue bonds (non-moral obligation bonds) and the revenues from the TIF will be used to pay back the money borrowed.
What is a “TIF”? How does it work?
“TIF” stands for tax incremental financing.
A TIF works in the following way– If a designated area is generating very little tax revenue (like the Tidewater site in Pawtucket) economic development tools, like TIFs, are used as an incentive to support and encourage private investment (like the Fortuitous investment.). Public investment in infrastructure supports economic activity that then generates tax revenue that previously didn’t exist. This is called “incremental revenue”. That new revenue is used to pay for the costs of the infrastructure that helped create the new economic activity in the first place. Existing taxes that are reinvested could include hotel taxes, real estate taxes, and sale taxes.
Does any of this require special legislation from the General Assembly?
The developers do not anticipate needing additional legislative action to move the project forward at this time. We anticipate utilizing the newly enacted tax incremental financing (TIF) legislation to capture new tax revenue that will be created by the project to help pay any project related bonds.
What is the Opportunity Zone program?
Opportunity Zones are a new, federal economic development tool for designated communities (Pawtucket being one) to attract private investment in businesses and real estate. This federal program provides a tax incentive for private investors to invest in qualified projects within designated Opportunity Zones. The incentive is designed to encourage long-term investment – with certain tax benefits kicking in only after maintaining the investment for at least ten years. The Division St. and Apex sites are in an opportunity zone, the Tidewater site is not.
Is there a commitment from a sports team or other sports/retail anchor tenants for Tidewater Landing?
Yes. Brett Johnson of Fortuitous Partners owns the exclusive right from the United Soccer League (USL) to bring a USL Championship League franchise to Rhode Island. In addition, the event facility will be operated by Sports Facilities Advisory, LLC and Sports Facilities Management, the most successful sports tourism company in the country, with success in developing destinations throughout the United States.
Who will pay to build the stadium?
Fortuitous intends to finance the stadium with private funds at an estimated cost of $45 million.
What is the USL (United Soccer League)?
The USL is the largest, fastest growing professional soccer organization in North America counting more than 100 clubs in its membership across The USL Championship, USL League One, and USL League Two.
What is The USL Championship?
The USL Championship is the highest tier of the USL and one of the most successful professional soccer leagues in the world. With 36 clubs across two conferences, over three-million fans are expected to attend matches across the United States in 2019, with every game available live via the league’s recently announced three-year agreement with ESPN.
The average income for a family in Pawtucket is $44,909. Will this project and the events be affordable for those families?
Absolutely – Fortuitous Partners and the USL are committed to bringing a family-friendly fan experience to Pawtucket. The USL’s commitment to building meaningful partnerships with its host communities and community organizations is a huge part of why the league has been successful and why attendance levels are so strong in many USL markets. For reference purposes, the average ticket price for Phoenix Rising game is $22, with entry level tickets available for $8. In addition, the developers are also committed to workforce housing in the area, a key component of the opportunity zone program.
How many days per year will the stadium be in use? What other types of events will be planned?
The stadium will be used year-round. Currently, USL Championship clubs have at least 17 home matches with the opportunity for additional home matches including exhibitions, the U.S. Open Cup (U.S. Soccer’s national competition) and international friendlies. When they are away or not in-season, the stadium will be used for other events.