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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2020
Decision follows extensive community engagement effort
Providence, RI – RIHousing’s Board of Commissioners today announced the selection of Omni Development Corporation and The Wingate Companies (Omni/Wingate) as co-developers of the Barbara Jordan II development in Upper South Providence. The developer selection process began over two years ago and included an extensive community engagement component, rigorous staff evaluation of developer proposals and the review and unanimous approval from an outside advisory committee. Final developer selection took place at last week’s RIHousing Board of Commissioners meeting.
“The redevelopment of Barbara Jordan II marks a major milestone in our long-term vision for promoting sustainable, inclusive growth throughout Providence neighborhoods,” remarked Mayor Jorge Elorza. “By creating new housing, and particularly new affordable housing options, we are building stronger communities and taking bold action to provide homes for our residents.”
Barbara Jordan II includes 26 two- and three-story apartment buildings situated on scattered sites totaling 2.75 acres. The 26 buildings contain a total of 74 apartments, all of which are currently vacant. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development finalized a foreclosure of the properties and in June of that year ownership was transferred to RIHousing. Developer selection marks the next phase of an extensive effort to redevelop these foreclosed and vacant properties.
“We’re incredibly excited to see the redevelopment of the properties move forward and are thankful for the level of resident participation in the community engagement process,” said Carol Ventura, RIHousing Executive Director. “Now more than ever we need to develop safe, affordable homes in neighborhoods where families can thrive. The extensive outreach and developer selection process ensure the redeveloped sites will meet the needs of residents and have a transformational impact on their lives and on the broader community.”
Local residents, anchor institutions, neighborhood organizations and other stakeholders participated in a full range of public engagement activities over a seven-month period. Participants worked together to create a vision for the redevelopment of the properties and surrounding area. Key takeaways from the engagement process were used to craft a Request for Proposals for redevelopment of the site.
“The community is encouraged about Barbara Jordan II being brought to fruition,” said State Senator Harold M. Metts. “I am both thankful and elated that families will get decent and affordable housing, and that the present blight that has haunted us for years will be replaced by new units that will visually uplift the neighborhood.”
“We are living in a time for new beginnings,” said State Representative Anastasia Williams. “I’m thrilled to see the redevelopment plans and efforts for Barbara Jordan ll moving forward to improve families’ lives, employ local workers and significantly re-shaping a whole neighborhood on Providence’s south side, resulting in a sweet community victory for everyone.”
An advisory committee composed of representatives from the City of Providence, Providence Housing Authority, LISC Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission, and a retired executive with Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., reviewed developer submissions, interviewed candidates and made the unanimous decision to select the Omni/Wingate team.
“As a City we are in need of affordable housing, and I am very happy to see that this project has come to fruition,” stated Providence City Council President Sabina Matos. “I know how hard Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris worked to bring her community together over the course of several years. By doing so, she ensured that those who live in the neighborhood were able to have their voices heard, and that the design will reflect the needs and wants of her neighbors. This is a great new chapter in the neighborhood, and I want to say thank you to Deputy Majority Leader Harris for leading the way.”
Providence Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris stated, “I want to thank RIHousing for listening to the needs and desires of my community. For too long, developers would come into our neighborhood and not ask us – the residents – what we needed or what we wanted to see. I believe that our community has had a chance to share our voices, and I look forward to this next chapter. This project is going to be a beautiful representation of what our community needs and will change the quality of so many people’s lives.”
The development team’s selection was based on several factors, including: their strong presence in the neighborhood, significant experience and expertise in housing development and property management, design proposal and commitment to hiring local MBE/WBE construction firms.
“Work on the Barbara Jordan properties provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform this neighborhood and significantly improve the lives of local residents,” said Jeanne Cola, Executive Director, LISC Rhode Island. “This project was named for one of our country’s leaders in the civil rights movement. Barbara Jordan was one of the first U.S. Congresswomen and was a passionate advocate for all Americans. To properly restore and revitalize these homes for the community will honor the legacy she left to our country. Efforts such as these are successful because community members, stakeholder groups, for- and not-for-profit entities come together to create a shared vision. The Omni/Wingate development team is the right partner to see through that vision.”
The Providence-based Omni Development Corporation has created over 1,400 units of affordable housing at 20 developments within Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut over the last 29 years. The Wingate Company has over 30 years of property management experience, managing over 15,000 residential apartments in 18 states and 1,500 units in 19 developments in Rhode Island.
“This development will allow Omni to continue our work in the neighborhood, which was a primary focus of Joseph A. Caffey, who served as Executive Director for 24 years,” said Sharon Morris, Executive Director of Omni Development Corporation. “Omni is an experienced developer and has transformed some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, replacing vacant lots and abandoned properties with high-quality, safe and affordable housing. Like myself, Joe was committed to the community. Barbara Jordan II is an exciting opportunity for Omni Development Corporation and Wingate Companies. We look forward to transforming the neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for the residents of South Providence.”
The redevelop effort represents a significant investment in the community and its residents. More information on the development and the community engagement process can be found here: https://www.rihousing.com/barbarajordan2/.