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195 commission brands 20-acre Providence parcel as ‘The Link’

PROVIDENCE (AP) — The 20 acres of land on the edge of downtown Providence that were freed up for redevelopment by the relocation of Interstate 195 have a new identity.

Colin Kane, chairman of the 195 Redevelopment District Commission, said Wednesday it’s been dubbed “The Link” because it links the city’s neighborhoods as well as Rhode Island’s industrial past and high-tech future.

State and city officials have made the area’s development a centerpiece of efforts to jumpstart the struggling economy in Rhode Island, where unemployment remains stubbornly high.

The ribbon of land, where utility and other pre-development work is underway, can support 3 million square feet of mixed-use space and will include eight acres of parks, officials said. It could include everything from workplaces to residences to retail.

“Whatever you’re thinking of, it’s possible here,” said Jan Brodie, the commission’s executive director. “It really and truly is a developer’s dream.”

The Link’s 17 parcels mostly fall within the so-called Knowledge District, named for the health care and high-tech companies it hopes to attract. Brown University moved its medical school to a redeveloped building in the district in 2011. The area had previously been known as the Jewelry District for the jewelry manufacturers once there.

Earlier this month, the state Coastal Resources Management Council approved a stormwater master plan for The Link. Kane said this approach will cut developers’ permitting time down from about 20 months to 45 days.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras called its development a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We are the envy of mayors across the country,” he said.

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