Officials optimistic of major Hartford Avenue development

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Officials remain tight lipped regarding the potential development of the large swath of land along Hartford Avenue near Route 295.

With the Citizens Bank campus nearing completion, residents are wondering what might be in store next for Johnston.

Last year the town proposed the 111-acre site off Hartford Avenue near the Route 295 south on-ramp as the site for Amazon HQ2, a second North American headquarters. The town sent their request along with a description of infrastructure, including the recent developments of the Hartford Avenue sewer and water line extension project, to the state. However, Johnston’s Hartford Avenue proposal was not included in the final offer to Amazon.

The recent Hartford Avenue infrastructure project saw the Narragansett Bay Commission add nearly 5,400 linear feet of piping under the road, while water lines were extended to the area. Work to repave Hartford Avenue is also now underway.

The project opened up nearly 150 acres on both sides of Hartford Avenue, and Mayor Joseph Polisena has touted the area as one that might “put us on the map for commercial development.”

“The buzz is we have another potential client coming in that wants to build a huge, huge, huge structure on Route 6, they’re looking to do that. If they do come, it will probably bring 1,200 to 1,500 new jobs. It’s going to move the town forward,” said Polisena. “A lot of those jobs will come from, hopefully, the residents in Johnston who will have that option, but I haven’t worked that out yet. If everything comes to fruition, that’s going to be great.”

Polisena added that any potential development along the Hartford corridor would be “great” for the town, and highlighted that commercial development has offset tax pressures on homeowners. He stated that this is the third year in a row without a tax increase because of those developments.

“Like they say, ‘Watch me now.’ We’re really looking forward to the development of Hartford Avenue. I met with one of the land owners who had someone come in looking to in a hotel, so that really is on the front burner,” said Polisena. “Route 6 is my next venture.”

Governor Gina Raimondo, while not mentioning any potential companies, remained optimistic that another Citizens Bank type project could come to town .

“Let’s do another one. The mayor and I talk all the time, we’re constantly working on different projects. This [Citizens Bank] infrastructure improvement is going to make it easier to get the next company, because companies, both big businesses and small businesses, they want to be in places with good roads, good water, good sports facilities and good schools,” Raimondo said during the recent exit ramp dedication. “It’s a snowball. This one was the hardest because it was the first; the next few I think will be easier. I’m excited by the opportunity.”

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