Library’s facilities and workforce development programs will be expanded through the renovation
Providence Public Library (PPL) announced today that it has received $4.2 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) equity and $1.6 million in C-PACE financing, both significant sources of funding toward its transformative $25 million THINK AGAIN building construction project set to begin this month. The equity is based on a total of $15.5 million in NMTC allocations, provided through major investments from two Community Development Entities — Building America CDE, Inc., a subsidiary of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust ($8 million), and Consortium America, LLC ($7.5 million). Greenworks Lending is providing the C-PACE financing through the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank’s RI-CPACE program. Multiple lenders, including Chase and The Washington Trust Company, round out the Library’s construction financing plan.
The project is the state’s largest-ever library renovation. It is the centerpiece and culmination of PPL’s vision and strategic goals for achieving 21st-century library services for Providence and Rhode Island residents and will address required life safety systems upgrades while making major infrastructure improvements to PPL’s downtown buildings (150 Empire Street). The 83,000-square foot project will transform the Library’s 1950s wing, auditorium, and special collection areas to provide 21st-century library services for Providence and Rhode Island residents.
“This funding is a critical component of our overall $25 million project goal,” said Jack Martin, PPL Executive Director. “So much of our THINK AGAIN building transformation has to do with creating modern learning spaces within our building. With optimal and flexible facilities, we will be able to expand our wide range of community learning opportunities, particularly the kinds of 21st-century workforce development and technology training initiatives that are so necessary now for Rhode Island youth and adults,” said Martin.
“Building America CDE is proud to partner in the transformation of PPL, which will be built by the union men and women of the Rhode Island building trades,” said Eric Price, CEO of Building America CDE. “The Library is a critical resource for Providence, and the expansion of its workforce development and educational programs will be heralded as a model for libraries across the country.”
“Consortium America is very proud to be supporting this project with New Markets Tax Credits, together with partners JP Morgan Chase and Building America CDE,” said Andrew Cortés, Consortium America Advisory Board Member and Executive Director of Building Futures. “Consortium America always seeks to finance projects that have a community-to-union connection, so the PPL project is exactly on target. In partnership with Building Futures, PPL will ensure community residents gain construction trade careers that can support families – employed in high-quality union registered apprenticeship programs of the RI Building & Construction Trades Council and responsible contractors like BOND Brothers.”
“This is a long overdue and extensive renovation project to a community asset that serves over 150,000 visitors annually, many of whom are low-income persons from low-income neighborhoods,” said Michael Sabitoni, President of the RI Building & Construction Trades Council and Business Manager of Laborers Local 271. “For us, the PPL project provides an opportunity beyond just employing our existing members; it enables us to replenish our ranks from the very community served by PPL, drawing from Building Futures’ pre-apprenticeship training program for placement with BOND and other signatory contractors.”
“Providing the necessary support to round out the financing for this historic renovation project gives us great pride as it will serve the Library and the Providence community for many years to come,” said Joseph M. Confessore, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Team Leader, Washington Trust. “We thank Providence Public Library for choosing The Washington Trust Company.”
“The revitalization of the Providence Public Library is essential to Rhode Island’s ongoing community development, offering residents lifetime education opportunities,” said En Jung Kim, Executive Director, New Markets Tax Credit Group, Chase. “We’re committed to supporting projects like this through the New Markets Tax Credit program that not only transform neighborhoods but improve people’s lives.”
“The renovations to the Providence Public Library will serve city residents well into the future while yielding significant savings for the Library,” said Jeffrey Diehl, CEO of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. “The Infrastructure Bank is excited about helping communities, nonprofits and private businesses save money while making needed long-term energy efficient investments through low-cost financing programs like C-PACE and the Efficient Buildings Fund.”
“The Providence Public Library project is an excellent example of the breadth and scope of energy efficiency projects that can be financed through C-PACE,” stated Jessica Bailey, CEO and co-founder of Greenworks Lending. “The first projects we financed in Rhode Island featured solar, but two of our more recent closings, including Providence Public Library, feature efficiency measures. We are optimistic that this signifies property owners are beginning to realize the C-PACE program’s full potential for both solar and efficiency as well as new construction and redevelopment.”
“This NMTC project’s funding entities are extremely supportive of the Library’s evolution over recent years and its current leadership role as an educational and community service organization focusing on workforce development and job training initiatives, be it through traditional literacy or its more recent high impact technology training programs,” said Barbara Sokoloff of Barbara Sokoloff Associates, financing consultant for the project.
Additionally, the project will be funded in part by an $8.8 million grant from the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services.
In addition to this financing, PPL’s THINK AGAIN capital campaign in support of this once-in-a-generation project has raised more than $2.6 million in gifts and pledges towards the $25 million goal. To learn more and support the campaign, visit: https://www.provlib.org/think-again/.
PPL has engaged BOND, one of the Northeast’s leading building, civil, utility and energy construction firms, as construction manager. The project architect is designLAB Architects of Boston, the same firm that served as the architect for PPL’s 1900 building renovation completed in January 2013.
“We are excited about our work and contribution to the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island as construction manager for the PPL,” said Dan Ramos, Regional Manager, BOND’s Providence Office. “BOND is proud to work with the PPL stakeholders on this transformative civic project.”
PPL THINK AGAIN Background
Since the implementation of its THINK AGAIN Strategic plan in 2014, PPL has increased its focus on economic advancement and workforce development programs and support. PPL provides technology training to promote job readiness (e.g., Microsoft Office, web/software development, makerspace equipment such as 3D printers, laser and vinyl cutters), workforce development initiatives for at-risk teens including paid summer employment opportunities, high school completion programs, assistance with job search/information and online job applications including the services of a Career Coach, English Language Learner and U.S. Citizenship preparation classes, and other innovative adult literacy services such as Learning Lounges. PPL currently receives two federal workforce development grants, one targeted to adults and another targeted to teens. PPL also offers tax and legal workshops targeted to small businesses.
Many of PPL’s educational and workforce development programs are at capacity with waiting lists given the limitations of PPL’s existing facility. Through renovation of the physical space, PPL hopes to serve double the number of people or nearly 300,000 by 2020, including doubling its reach through economic advancement, workforce development, and educational programs. PPL collaborates with more than 50 partners annually; the renovated space will better serve these community organizations and foster even more collaborative partnerships to better serve the Rhode Island community.
The building project will enable PPL and its program partners to do the following:
• Offer larger and more frequent classes and services by more than doubling its classroom space from 3000 square feet to 7000 square feet;
• Provide a larger public computer area and increase the number of public computers from 62 to 100+;
• Create the flexible space needed to offer new programs, including a 300-500-person conference center which can be split into five rooms for rent/use by the community;
• Provide expanded and dedicated spaces for children and teens; and
• Create a new 3000 square foot café retail space that will be leased to a local third-party operator, and generate operating revenue for PPL.
In addition to more classroom and public computer space, renovations will also include a new central atrium that will better connect library departments and services, a new Information Commons that will combine the reference and circulation departments, improved visitor flow and wayfinding, enlarged windows to bring more natural light into the building, required fire code upgrades, and the installation of efficient and effective environmental controls for PPL’s $32 million Special Collections, which is highly utilized by students and the arts community.
PPL is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1875, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily through private funding sources, including its own PPL Foundation. PPL provides services and resources to more than 152,000 visitors annually. The Library also serves as the Statewide Reference Resource Center holding unique collections and resources.
About Consortium America CDE
Consortium America, LLC, (CA) is a nationally certified Community Development Entity which has been awarded over $700 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation by the CDFI Fund, a division of the Department of Treasury. CA uses its NMTC allocation to make investments projects that have the potential to serve as “anchors” or transformational projects in low-income communities. CA targets its resources towards projects that create the highest quality jobs accessible to low-income persons and to projects with significant union participation and that will create alliances with local job training and pre-apprenticeship programs.
About Building America CDE
Since it was formed in 2010, Building America has allocated $125.5 million of New Markets Tax Credits to 16 projects across the US. As an affiliate of parent company AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT), Building America works to create economic empowerment and opportunity, bringing jobs and services to severely distressed communities. More information is available on the Building America website, www.buildingamericacde.com