Newport This Week

Sheffield Redevelopment Moves Forward

Redevelopment of the former Sheffield School on upper Broadway is finally taking the next step in its planed transformation into a technology incubator to be known as Innovate Newport.

It comes after a series of delays. In May, Scott Gibbs, president of the Rhode Island Economic Development Foundation and acting as the city’s project manager, said that bid packages, or Requests for Proposal (RFP), would be out just after Memorial Day, with contractors breaking ground by September.

City Manager Joe Nicholson later acknowledged that the May date was ambitious and said that the bid package should be out in July, with shovels in the ground by September.

Mayor Harry Winthrop told Newport This Week, “We are close to getting the packages out and we should have shovels in the ground by October.” Gibbs confirmed in an email that the RFP will be advertised beginning on Thursday, Aug. 24.

Still, it remains to be seen if the October date can be achieved. There are required timelines associated with projects involving public money. In addition they must be advertised, typically there is a site visit for prospective bidders and a date set for the submission of bids.

Renovation of the 33,600-square-foot school building is expected to cost $6.29 million, given the complexity of the project and the technology expected to be included in the infrastructure, it seems unlikely that a RFP could be submitted, a company properly vetted and a contract approved and executed in such a short time.

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