Initial investments in roadways and utility infrastructure at Tiverton’s 172-acre industrial park could cost $9.2 million, the Tiverton Town Council learned on Monday.
Representatives from the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island presented a seven-page preliminary analysis of the 66-lot subdivision prepared by DiPrete Engineering and that spelled out the initial costs of preparing the industrial park for development.
According to Marcel A. Valois, vice president of the nonprofit economic growth company, under the approved plan, 93 acres would be divided into lots averaging 1.4 acres. The marketing strategy would be to accommodate small businesses and combine lots to accommodate larger ones.
The consequence to dividing the parcel into so many lots is the extensive amounts of roadway and utility infrastructure required. Valois estimated the cost to construct the project as designed would be $9.27 million.
“Under this scenario and with these improvements under option 1, a full build-out probably wouldn’t see a return for 15 years - and that’s taking into consideration tax revenues,” said Valois. “It will probably take near seven years to recover costs so it makes a lot of sense to try to reduce the amount of public investment up.”
Valois recommended augmenting lot sizes and marketing to attract bigger businesses to Tiverton Business Park.
Under an alternative plan with lots ranging in size from 2 to 15 or more acres, EDFRI and DiPrete could to reduce development costs by 60 percent. Developers would be responsible for financing on-site infrastructure costs.
The alternative layout would allow for 102 saleable acres versus 93 with option 1. The town would lay a quarter mile of roadway rather than over a mile and utility infrastructure installation would drop from $3.5 million to $1.3 million. Total development costs could drop as low as $3.5 million.
“The numbers show that this is questionable, not a feasible project at these numbers,” said Valois. “The next thing we are looking at is whether there is a way to reduce those costs.”
Valois urged the council to identify a vision for the industrial park – what type, size, and scope of industry would be attractive to the community. Council members wondered how the development of the industrial park off of Route 24 could also spur development of renewable energy projects in Tiverton.
“The initial question when we talked about wind energy months ago was can we do both,” said Brett N. Pelletier, councilman. “Can we have a viable industrial park alongside wind energy? I think we are moving closer to yes.”
Council President Jay. J. Lambert said the analysis of the development plans were useful to keeping the improvements at Tiverton Business Park on track.
“Just so we are clear, at this point we are just taking very small steps,” he said.