It all started in 2010 when Alison Bologna, Pawtucket resident and local news anchor on NBC 10, decided to open a yoga studio in one of our empty downtown storefronts. She named it “Shri Studio” with the intention of bringing light (the definition of “Shri” in Sanskrit) to the neighborhood by offering free, low-cost yoga classes to students who otherwise wouldn’t. no access.
While serving more than 8,500 students each year, Alison outgrew three rented spaces in the city and began looking for something more permanent. Knowing this, and a bit about her love of design and architecture, myself and members of my administration convinced her to invest in an underutilized 15,000 square foot factory near the new hub MBTA commuter rail in the Conant Thread District in 2018.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Alison quickly learned that the mill was built in the early 1800s in the Italian style, and she became determined to preserve its history while meeting its modern needs. During a recent visit, she showed me how a safe is transformed into a meeting room, while another is transformed into a staircase. Instead of plastering rough, paint-stained brick walls, she exposes them. And in a desire to continue telling the story of the factory today, Alison salvaged a number of things from the cleanup, including antique sinks, 10-foot-tall interior doors, early-century windows century, vintage sewing machines, textile equipment, stand-alone safes, stools and rolling fire doors.
After the property closed in January 2020, a massive fire destroyed a million square feet of space adjacent to that factory, the pandemic shut down the state for two years, and inflation drove that construction budget up by over $700,000. However, with continued support from the city, as well as the Pawtucket-Central Falls Development Corp. (a non-profit development agency hired by Alison), architect Ed Wojcik and general contractor Stand Corp., we found ways to move forward, valuing the engineering plans and the raising funds (private and with the state) without sacrificing the aesthetics, form or function of this building. We’re also continuing to jump-start development in this neighborhood, working with state legislators to create an Opportunity Zone, which gives developers tax credits and also creates a “super TIF” (tax increase financing ) to serve as a funding tool for developers.
When construction on this $3.7 million project is complete in late 2022, this mixed-income, mixed-use property will house three social enterprises on the first floor (including Shri, which plans to double the number of students served) and eight residential apartments. , five of which will be restricted deed affordable housing. The result: a creative community of life, work and well-being.
“The revitalization of 390 Pine St. is not about one person, or even one project,” Alison said. “It’s really about designing a space, for good work, for inspiring others.”
If you would like to know more about the city’s economic development projects/incentives, contact Director of Commerce Sandra Cano at [email protected]
Donald Grebien is the Mayor of Pawtucket, RI