Coming storage facility part of construction boom on Route 116

Coming storage facility part of construction boom on Route 116

Solar panels have been installed and are prepared to go online at 600 George Washington Highway, located on the Lincoln/Smithfield line behind Enn Japanese and Sushi Bar. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – Construction projects along George Washington Highway/Route 116 are booming, helped in part by a mild winter with little snow.

Crossing the bridge over the Blackstone River from Cumberland into Lincoln, the first change is taking place just after the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s salt shed on the north side of Route 116. At the end of the driveway between 678 and 676 George Washington Highway (home to Mandeville Signs), a new self-storage facility will be built.

The Lincoln Planning Board gave master plan approval to the storage facility, owned by 678 GHW LLC, during its Jan. 23 meeting. The 5.68-acre commercial lot will contain a total of six buildings and exterior storage space, to be built in addition to the existing commercial building at the front of the property. The storage units will be located at the back of the parcel, fenced off from the general public and accessible via controlled gates.

Town Planner Al Ranaldi said the only concern related to the proposed storage facility was that it’s planned for the former H & H Screw site, identified by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management as a contaminated site and slapped with an Environmental Land Use Restriction (ELUR).

According to the environmental consultant hired to work on the project, this type of development is possible on a contaminated site as long as the ELUR conditions are followed. The ELUR would have to be updated as a condition of approval.

After its current owner acquired the property, building renovation and site remediation began. In August 2017, the required remediation work was complete.

The property is zoned manufacturing limited, so the proposed self-storage facility is a permitted use if the buildings are fastened to permanent foundations. Ranaldi said the developer proposed digging into contaminated soil that had been capped with asphalt, removing and disposing of the soil in a qualified area or moving it elsewhere on the site and capping it.

Continuing up Route 116, crews can be seen wrapping up demolition on a portion of 701 George Washington Highway. That building will soon be home to the BETA Group, an engineering and landscape architecture firm currently located at 6 Blackstone Valley Place.

After passing by the town’s largest construction project, the renovation of Lincoln High School, there’s the vacant lot where three homes once stood between Blackstone Valley Place and the office park at 640 George Washington Highway. The last of the three homes was demolished last month to make way for a new building. Kirkbrae Development Corp. co-owner Gregory Richard told The Breeze he doesn’t plan to build office space as he had originally intended when he scooped up the properties roughly a decade ago, but he hasn’t yet nailed down a plan for the site.

Further up the road, blasting has made way for a second Marriott Hotel near the Sunoco gas station. Ranaldi said that project is still in the site preparation stage of the planning process, with the town currently reviewing the building plans. The four-story hotel project, called “Lincoln Ridge,” will bring a number of traffic changes to Route 116.

The Breeze reported last May that Link Properties LLC was proposing demolishing the Bank of America building near Panera Bread to build a new commercial building on the corner lot. Demolition has since been completed, with construction beginning on the new 5,000-square-foot building in January. The building is expected to house a Cox Communications customer service center and possibly one other tenant, said Ranaldi.

On the border of Smithfield, a new solar farm is preparing to go online. Approved last March, the project represents the development of 9.83 acres of an existing 15.11-acre commercial property behind Enn Japanese Sushi Bar. The 10,094-panel, three-megawatt solar farm is abutted by Toyota of Smithfield, D&D Mulch and Landscape, and Central Transport.

A former Bank of America, adjacent to Panera Bread at 613 George Washington Highway, will soon be replaced with a new commercial building, which is expected to house Cox Communications with room for one additional tenant.