EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. – New renderings of a planned development of the former Metacomet Golf, a historic Donald Ross design, show a supermarket-anchored suburban shopping center flanked by more than 800 apartments.
Developer Marshall Properties purchased the golf course in 2019 and two years later won city approval to build on the 140-acre property off Veterans Memorial Parkway over fierce resistance from neighborhood residents.
Back in November 2018, Golfweek reported on the prospects of Metacomet Golf Club – which had amassed significant debt, primarily in the form of back taxes – as it prepared itself for a sale. Three suitors emerged, with the membership eventually settling on a group that included PGA Tour great Brad Faxon. The reported sale price was $2.2 million.
The plans submitted to the city Waterfront Commission show that the whole development would be branded “The Met.” The shopping plaza, with 163,000 square feet of commercial space over several buildings, would be at the front of the complex, closest to the parkway, the East Bay Bike Path and the Providence River.
A mix of retail stores and apartment buildings
Most customers would enter the complex through a new roundabout built where Veterans Memorial Parkway meets Lyon Avenue. The main access road leads to an unnamed supermarket and an internal roundabout feeding cars to smaller shops and the apartment buildings.
The commercial buildings include restaurants and a drive-through bank. Some of the shops front a walkway that leads to what looks like an amphitheater.
Nine apartment buildings would occupy the northeast half of the development and include 844 rental units, according to a market study submitted to the Waterfront Commission. There would also be 22 duplexes and 24 townhouses.
The study says Marshall intends to rent 10% of the units to residents who make 80% of the Area Median Income.
The apartment buildings range from three to five stories with hotel-style double-loaded corridor layouts. Some feature basement parking garages to supplement the surface parking lots around them. There are 1½ dedicated spaces per unit.
At least three of the buildings are advertised as “senior living.”
Why did neighbors oppose the development?
The first work on the Metacomet site began last year to reduce the 18-hole golf course to nine holes.
The contentious fight over a city zoning change to make way for the development focused on whether the golf course should be developed at all, and, if so, how much open space should remain.
When fully built, the Metacomet development will generate $5.3 million in annual tax revenue to East Providence, 4Ward Planning estimates, $4.9 million when the cost of providing municipal services is deducted. (4Ward did not attempt to estimate the additional educational costs of the new residences.)
Marshall Properties presented the renderings and a video about the development to the East Providence Waterfront District Commission last month.
Waterfront Commission Chairman William Fazioli said Thursday that the developer did not say which parts of the complex would be built first, or if it would happen in phases.
He said the commission will probably begin its review in February.
Lianne Marshall, owner of Marshall Properties, did not return a phone call Thursday. The developer has said little to the media since parting company with a public relations firm after the permitting process.
The renderings show the shops and parking lots overlooking the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Veterans Memorial Parkway and shimmering Providence River, with downtown Providence in the background.
Candy Seel of Keep Metacomet Green, the resident group that fought the development, said Thursday that in meetings Marshall has described a two-phase development, with the shopping center built first and homes later.
“As to whether Keep Metacomet Green thinks that these renderings look better or worse than we expected, 60+ acres of dense commercial and residential development bordering the historic parkway and the surrounding neighborhoods filled with family residences, an elementary school and a public park is completely out-of-scale no matter how the pieces are put together,” Seel wrote in an email.