Utility work begins on 195 land

The next phase of work on the Interstate 195 redevelopment project has begun. Nineteen acres of land on both sides of the river will be transformed.

It's just dirt and possibilities now, but officials say the possibilities are limitless.

"We have 19 pad-ready sites in downtown. We are surrounded by life science buildings, Brown University, Johnson and Wales, the hospital network, parks, the East Side with a strong residential component. We are right in the middle of all of that," Jan Brodie, executive director of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, said Tuesday.

Work is now under way on installing the infrastructure to prepare for restoring the roads that ran through the area before the highway was built. Conduits for new utilities have to be installed while avoiding existing water mains.

But it doesn't account for what appeared to be months of inaction.

"We understand everyone's frustration that they drove by and they saw nothing happening. The reason nothing happened for a long time was we were preparing to do this," said Colin Kane, chairman of the commission.

Kane is ready to set a date for the marketing phase of this potential job-creating zone. He said the lots will have infrastructure and permits in place, making them ideal for development.

"We will be in the market, we hope mid-winter and early 2014," Kane said.

Kane said Dynamo House, which was to be the Heritage Harbor Museum, could become the anchor of the new area as a nursing school for Brown University and the University of Rhode Island.