R.I., Providence officials laud opening of ‘beehive of innovation’

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The Wexford Innovation Center is one of the first projects to officially open in the I-195 Redevelopment District, more than 20 acres of state-owned, developable land in downtown Providence made vacant by the relocation of Route 195 in 2007.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story wrongly described the Wexford Innovation Center as the first project to open in the Route 195 Redevelopment District.

PROVIDENCE — State and city officials stood in a line in front of the Wexford Innovation Center on Wednesday, laughing and smiling as Gov. Gina Raimondo cut a bright orange ribbon to mark the opening of the building that politicians say will be a hub for innovators and entrepreneurs.

The center is one of the first projects to officially open in the I-195 Redevelopment District, more than 20 acres of state-owned, developable land in downtown Providence made vacant by the relocation of Route 195 in 2007.

“It is no exaggeration to say that I have literally been waiting for this day for years,” Raimondo said. “When I ran for office, you don’t know how many people said to me, ‘Can you really get something done on that 195 land?’ And I said ‘Yes,’ hoping that that was true.”

The seven-story, 196,000-square-foot building at 225 Dyer St. will be a “beehive of innovation,” Raimondo said, ”… and is really the beginning of the center of something incredibly special for Providence and the whole state.”

Who will the tenants be, and what will they do?

Cambridge Innovation Center: This is a Boston-based company that offers workspace for entrepreneurs, startups and innovators. The CIC is an anchor tenant of the Wexford Innovation Center and will have tenants of its own.

Johnson & Johnson: This international health-care company will have corporate offices at the center.

Brown University: Offiices for the university’s school of professional studies, “Gateways to Medicine” medical program, health care and research program and division of pre-college and summer undergraduate programs will be housed in the center.

The Boston Globe will also have office space at the center. There is still uncommitted space available in the building.

How much did the project cost?

Construction of the building cost about $88 million. Interior improvements done on behalf of the Cambridge Innovation Center cost an additional $17 million.

How much did the project receive in state incentives?

How much revenue will the project generate for the state?

How many jobs will the project support?

The project created an estimated 675 direct and indirect construction jobs. Stefan Pryor, the state’s secretary of commerce, said it’s difficult to estimate the number of jobs that will be supported at the center, but officials estimate about 800.

What else is happening in the I-195 District?

A pedestrian bridge being built across from the Wexford Innovation Center, spanning the Providence River and built on the footings that once carried Route 195 over the river, is expected to be open to the public next month.

Another project is under construction near Johnson & Wales University’s downtown campus. It is a mixed-use development that will have apartments on the upper floor and retail space on the ground floor. It is expected to be completed next year.

Construction on the Aloft Hotel, which will be located next to the Wexford Innovation Center, is slated to begin in the fall.

Hope Point Tower, a controversial luxury apartment tower proposal, would also be built on I-195 district land, but the project is caught up in litigation.

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