New Live-Work & Culinary Incubator Space Marks Milestone in City’s Urban Food Development Strategy
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris, Economic Development Director Mark Huang, Knight & Swan LLC. developers Federico and Antonio Manaigo, and Citizens Bank Executive Vice President Barbara Cottam in the city’s West End to celebrate the official opening of ROOMS&WORKS, a live-work and culinary incubator space that offers residential apartments and a shared workspace housed in the historic Mechanical Fabric Company building at 55 Cromwell Street.
“The opening of ROOMS&WORKS marks a milestone in the urban food development strategy for the capital city,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Our thriving creative food culture and the innovation that is taking place across the city make us a perfect home for Foodworks. I congratulate owners Federico and Antonio Maniago on their work to make their vision a reality and wish them great success.”
Property owner Cromwell Ventures LLC., started work on the historic mill in 2013. The space offers forty (40) one to two-bedroom apartments, private offices, shared workspace and Foodworks, the city’s first food incubator and shared commercial kitchen. Owners Federico Manaigo, a real estate developer from Manhattan, and Antonio Manaigo, a designer and graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), saw the arduous transformation of the blighted, vacant buildings and lots from beginning to end.
“Back in 2012 we had a vision for these vacant historic buildings consisting of a mixed-use including residences, shared work-space and a kitchen incubator to be branded ROOMS&WORKS. Today we are very excited to be offering a space for startups in Providence to grow their businesses and the opening of the City’s first culinary incubator under the umbrella of Foodworks” said developer and owner Federico Manaigo.
The project was made possible, in part, by a 2013 Historic Preservation Tax Credit from the State of Rhode Island and a Property Tax Stabilization Agreement with the City of Providence. Foodworks’ introduction to the capital city was made possible by Betsy Santarlasci, Executive Director of the Partnership for Greater Providence (PGP). The urban economic development 501c3 funded by a CommerceRI Food Cluster grant is an instrumental entity in the City’s efforts to support business development in the food sector.
“ROOMS&WORKS meets a number of needs for the community by saving an historic building, providing housing and creating a hub for entrepreneurs,” said Barbara Cottam, executive vice president at Citizens Bank, which provided a construction loan as well as a term loan for the project. “Citizens’ partnership with the ROOMS&WORKS team is a demonstration of the bank’s commitment to Rhode Island. This project is a great example of a strong public-private partnership, which helps revitalize the neighborhood and strengthens the broader community.”
City resources encompassed in Mayor Elorza’s food and economic development strategy include financial assistance from the Providence Business Loan Fund (PBLF), Property Tax Stabilization agreements, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, investment from the Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA), and support from the PGP.
The opening of the establishment follows recent news highlighting progress with the City’s urban food economic development strategy that leverages resources to expand not only restaurants, but promote light food manufacturing, distribution, startups, food technology, and urban production in the city. This includes an $850,000 acquisition loan from the PBLF to Farm Fresh RI for the purchasing of a 3.2-acre site at 498 Kinsley Avenue to help realize a food and agriculture campus. As well as the securing of a $600,000 U.S. Economic Development Agency grant to develop a food industrial park with a focus on light manufacturing at the American Tourister site in the Wanskuck neighborhood.
Knight & Swan LLC., the developer, is a privately owned real estate development company based in New York City focused on urban regeneration projects in the inner city. Foodworks, one of the foremost operators of culinary incubators with operations across the United Stated and based in Brooklyn, NY with over 100+ producers. Foodworks provides specialized products and services to entrepreneurs in the food community to help them bring new companies and ideas to market.