2017-11-22 / Around Town

Innovate Project Moving Forward

By Bob Rulli

More than four years after it was initially proposed, plans to transform the former Sheffield School on Broadway took a major step forward last week when the Newport City Council approved a $6.18 million contract with Pezzuco Construction, Inc. of Cranston. Council voted at a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15 on this sole action item.

The plan to convert the 33,000-square-foot building, which will be called “Innovate Newport,” into co-work and incubator space for technology entrepreneurs and companies has been delayed several times. With the expectation that a contract will be finalized and executed shortly, that ground breaking might finally take place this year.

“This is a long time coming,” Councilor Lynn Ceglie said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am that we have approved this tonight.”

Councilor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano was also pleased to see the city reach this point. “This is an opportunity for the citizens of Newport, especially the young people, to really show us the innovations going on. I fully support this project. It’s just the beginning,” she said.

The project is funded with a combination of federal, state and city money. City Manager Joseph Nicholson inherited the project when he became interim city manager in July 2014. Mayor Harry Winthrop acknowledged Nicholson’s efforts in making the project a reality. “I know you had a lot of sleepless nights putting this together. Great job. This is going to be a great project,” he said.

Pezzuco Construction was also the lead contractor for Phases I and II of the Park Holm Redevelopment Project in the city’s north end.

According to the city’s manager on the project, the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island, construction would take approximately 14 months once a contract was awarded. Nicholson is hoping the project will be completed by next October.

Additional reporting by

James Merola

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