PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Paolino Properties Managing Partner Joseph R. Paolino Jr. announced today the donation of property located at 21 Peace Street – formerly the site of St. Joseph’s Hospital – to the City of Providence, which will be transformed into a brand-new Pre-K through 8th grade public school for the Providence Public School District.
“As former mayor of this great city, as a business leader, a father, a grandfather and a lifelong resident, I want nothing more than to see Providence succeed,” Paolino said. “This city has given me so much throughout my life, and I believe it’s important to give back to it. Providing a building that will become a state-of-the-art, clean and healthy learning environment for our young people is the best, most impactful way possible that I can imagine to give back.”
The property at 21 Peace Street consists of approximately 150,000 square feet of space between multiple buildings that formerly comprised the St. Joseph’s Hospital campus. The property will be donated to the City of Providence through Mayor Jorge Elorza. The City will assume ownership of the property and continue to cooperate with the Rhode Island Department of Education in carrying out the district’s turnaround plan.
“I am very grateful to Commissioner Infante-Green, Mayor Elorza and his entire team in Providence and Councilwoman Mary-Kay Harris for helping make this donation possible,” Paolino said. “They have all been tremendous partners each step of the way.”
The donated property includes two buildings on the campus (The East Building and the chapel) and the northern parking lot (about 1.5 acres of land), which will be used for outdoor recreation space and parking at the new school. The City of Providence recently assessed the value of the whole property at around $14.5 million, and the value of the donated portion was assessed at approximately $7 million. The total proposed investment of about $75 million into the new school building will likely be the largest public/private investment in the history of Broad Street.
The terms of agreement for the donation include an unprecedented provision that specifically mandates at least 30 percent of the contractual work awarded throughout construction of the school be completed by women- and minority-owned business enterprises — a higher threshold than the existing ordinance requires. Even further, the agreement mandates that at least 30 percent of the physical labor performed during the construction of the project be conducted by minority workers.
“It’s crucial that we empower minority- and women-owned contractors, businesses and laborers to be a part of this process from the onset,” Paolino said. “Providence is a diverse city, and we should celebrate that fact, because we all benefit when we foster an environment that is inclusive of everybody. That’s the same attitude I want to be ingrained into this new school.”
The donation agreement also enforces a city policy that was enacted by Paolino when he was Mayor of Providence, which will mandate that at least 1 percent of the total cost of the school construction go towards funding public art projects in the area that are approved by the City’s Art in City Life Commission.
“We have so many talented artists in Providence,” Paolino said, “Giving them a blank canvas upon which to create and share their creativity will help contribute to the richness of this already culturally vibrant neighborhood.”
Paolino said it was vital to include members of the community and educational stakeholders in the process as the new school is planned, designed and built.
“The only way we can succeed in this society is to work with one another,” Paolino said. “I want this process to be as open and transparent as possible, as it is a project with tremendous potential to improve the lives of generations of Providence students and families.”
The donation began as part of a conversation between Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and Paolino going back to October, when she began reaching out to Rhode Island’s business community for help with any donations that might assist the efforts to improve the Providence Public School District.
“I hope this is just the first positive domino to fall in a series of private investments that will help Providence students succeed,” Paolino said. “We have the best neighborhoods in the best city, so it is imperative that we step up to make our schools the best in the country as well.”