Metro

Former I-195 zone renamed ‘the Link’

The area has been named the Link in an effort to rebrand the Jewelry district as a science hub

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission adopted the Link as the new name for about 40 acres of land in the Jewelry District previously occupied by I-195.

Much of the Link overlaps with the “Knowledge District,” a moniker for the area adopted in recent years with hope that the area would develop into a hub of research and entrepreneurship centered on science and technology.

The commission owns about 19 of the Link’s 40 acres, which are being prepared for future development. The new name is part of an effort to attract investment that could bring new life to this part of Providence.

“The Link is just a name so that (the commission) can market the land,” said Melissa Withers, director of marketing for Betaspring, a startup accelerator at the center of the Jewelry District’s ambition to develop an entrepreneurial culture.

The new name “makes sense,” said Dan Baudouin, executive director of the Providence Foundation. The name connects the pieces of land to surrounding areas and “shows that they’re part of the community” but will also “set them apart for marketing.” Despite the new name, Baudouin said development will “take a while” due to the challenge of coming up with new projects.

Biotechnology and biomedical companies could develop the land to collaborate with local institutions, which would contribute to the area’s development, Baudouin said. But the goal is to keep many options available, and the commission is not wedded to the biotechnology industry, he added.

The new name “didn’t get me all excited,” said Arthur Salisbury, president of the Jewelry District Association. “But maybe it will grow on me.”

The Link does not refer to “the whole Jewelry District — just a part,” Salisbury added.

“They tried to rename the Jewelry District the Knowledge District several years ago,” but the name did not catch on, and many people were and still are against the change, Salisbury said.

Salisbury said the Jewelry District Association does not oppose using the term “Knowledge Corridor” to describe a wider area that would include the Jewelry District but does oppose renaming the land itself.

The commission is exploring possible interim uses for certain parcels of its land, which Baudouin said was “a great idea.” He added that he thinks the interim uses could include farmers markets, art installations and perhaps some “real temporary, low cost buildings.” The commission is still brainstorming and welcomes ideas from the public, he added.