I-195 move holds promise for RI's geek sector

map of jewelry district and it/dm companies

Speaking of economic development, and I'm bit late in getting to this, but Jack Templin of the Providence Geeks sees a lot of promise in the ongoing I-195 relocation project:

For those interested in urban and economic development though, the much more exciting aspect of the I-195 relocation project is not what's going up, but rather what will be coming down - the old stretch of I-195. Once the new I-195 is complete (scheduled for 2012), the old elevated portion of I-195, that cracking, concrete, rusting, metal mess that obtrusively snakes through the middle of Providence, will be razed. With its demise, 19.2 acres of prime center city real estate will be freed for development. Let me write that again - 19.2 acres! ....


It is awesome to see our sector so prominent in the context of this historic undertaking. Many of us would love to see RI's info-tech and digital media have a geographic center, a physical hub. And the soon to be uncovered land seems like the perfect spot. Its strengths include:


• Easy access to both I-95 and the new I-195; within walking distance of the train station's Amtrak and MBTA lines

• Proximity to many of our institutions of higher learning including Brown, RISD, and Johnson & Wales

• A funky, walkable mixed-use neighborhood with plenty of amenities, and with plenty more to come, including a big new riverfront park

• Adjacency to the state's large and growing bio-tech and medical sectors. From computational biology to medical devices to bioinformatics, there are all sorts of opportunities for our sector and the bio-tech/medical/life science industries to collaborate and innovate


Already, there are a myriad of ITDM companies in the vicinity of the old I-195 including Dynamic Diagrams, Creative Circle, SprintOut, Andera, Providence Health Solutions, Diamond Star Media, Machine Hero and Public Display, just to name a few. (See the RI Nexus Map for more.) With the relocation project, and a strategy that has the our sector prominent in the mix, I have little doubt that we can reach the critical mass of people, companies, and activity needed to make the neighborhood the true center of our community.


Stay tuned - this could be great.

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