Deal Flow

Plans for a food hub and market in Providence move ahead

Efforts to develop a project known as the Central Market on the former Shooters site on the Providence waterfront appear to have overcome some bureaucratic speed bumps

Photo by Richard Asinof

David Dadekian of Eat Drink RI with draft architectural drawings for the proposed Central Market.

Photo by Richard Asinof

The view from the deck at the former Shooters site where the development of a food hub and market is planned by Eat Drink RI.

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By Richard Asinof
Posted 10/16/17
While much attention has been focused on development of the Wexford Innovation Center in the former Jewelry District, the proposed Central Market on the former Shooters site offers a different kind of entrepreneurial activity. Now that the apparent bureaucratic logjam has been broken, the development of a downtown food hub and marketplace in Providence may hopefully proceed apace.
Are there opportunities for the 195 Commission to collaborate with Eat Drink RI in developing the property at 125 India St.? How does the proposed Central Market fit into the overall food strategy developed by the state of Rhode Island? Are there job-training opportunities that can become part of the enterprise? Is there an opportunity to develop a walking restaurant tour in Providence, similar to Gallery Night?
Access to healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables, a key component to improving the health of communities, is one of the targeted action items in the Pawtucket/Central Falls Health Equity Zone, with the construction of 76 community garden beds at Gallego Court in Pawtucket, working in collaboration with the Southside Community Land Trust. Both the African Alliance of Rhode Island and the Sankofa Initiative have developed a strategic approach to urban farming as a community initiative. There is much knowledge and wisdom that could be shared from those initiatives in building community engagement as part of an innovation ecosystem.


PROVIDENCE – The proposed project to create a central culinary market and food hub at the former site of the nightclub Shooters on the Providence waterfront bordering India Point Park may finally be breaking through an apparent administrative logjam of red tape that has held up the initiative for 10 months.

“I remain cautiously optimistic,” said David Dadekian, who directs Eat Drink RI, an organization that promotes all things culinary in Rhode Island, and who is the entrepreneur behind the Central Market proposal.

The deal is a bit complicated: Dadekian would be leasing the property at 25 India St. that is owned by the R.I. Department of Environmental Management. Although Dadekian has prepared architectural renderings for the project, to move forward, DEM, as the landlord, needed to conduct engineering studies of what was needed to develop the property.

DEM released an RFQ for engineering quotes to develop the property in February of this year, according to Dadekian. Five quotes were submitted by the due date of April 26; one firm was chosen and the bid was submitted to the R.I. Department of Administration to sign off on it.

The sign-off must have happened recently, Dadekian told ConvergenceRI, because there is an upcoming design meeting set for Oct. 25.

Without an engineering study, it was impossible to negotiate a lease, and without a lease, it was impossible to begin negotiations with investors and funding sources, such as banks, Dadekian had explained to ConvergenceRI in an unpublished interview in December of 2016.

High hopes
The proposed site for the Central Market, which is adjacent the R.I. Department of Transportation’s water taxi between Providence and Newport, is also in easy walking distance to the former I-195 land now being redeveloped, particularly once the pedestrian bridge now under construction is finished.

“The Central Market will basically be a public market, similar to the Reading Market in Philadelphia, serving as a big public market for both residents and tourists, showcasing all the great food and drink that Rhode Island has to offer,” Dadekian explained in an interview with ConvergenceRI last summer, when Eat Drink RI hosted a pop-up market on Aug. 6, 2016, to showcase products from more than 20 local vendors. [See link ConvergenceRI story below, “Finding common ground on future food policy in RI.”]

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