Cranston Print Works plan pursued

Posted 1/31/23

For approximately a decade, the former Cranston Print Works facility on Cranston Street has sat empty. Trees have grown in the gutters and holes have pitted the roof.

According to Planning …

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Cranston Print Works plan pursued


For approximately a decade, the former Cranston Print Works facility on Cranston Street has sat empty. Trees have grown in the gutters and holes have pitted the roof.

According to Planning Director Jason Pezzullo, the property’s buildings are in rough shape. But, that is subject to change. Owner and applicant CPW Apartments LLC and CPW True Storage out of Manchester, New Hampshire, will come before the Planning Commission on March 7 for master plan approval and zone change to the property; the zone change will then go before the City Council at its March 16 Ordinance Committee meeting.

“We’ve been anxious to see this [project] get to this point for a long time,” said Pezzullo, adding that his department has worked with the applicant for roughly two years.

Cranston Print Works was founded in 1824 by William Sprague and is the oldest textile printing operation in America. In the proposed rezoning ordinance, the city acknowledged the historic value of the property and its structures while recognizing the land’s great potential for reuse and redevelopment.

“The City of Cranston finds that it is in the best interest of the city’s economic welfare and community interest to support the redevelopment, revitalization and growth of the Print Works property in order that it can again make a significant contribution to the city’s industrial and commercial tax revenue base,” reads the ordinance’s preamble.

Pezzullo said the city is waiting on the master plan submission, but the applicant has proposed the development of multi-family housing and self-storage for the property. The plan has changed since the joint site walk visit that council members and planning commission members attended in August of 2021. At the time, individuals heard from the applicant to gain a greater understanding of the site and scope of the overall proposal.

Pezzullo said the proposal is more modest than what the applicant initially came forward with but is not all that different from what was proposed in 2021. He believes there are roughly 130 units for future residents; this number is almost half of what the applicant originally proposed. One of the biggest differences between the proposed plan and what was shown in 2021 was that the original set of plans suggested detached single family apartments in the rear of the facility and another apartment closer to the dam area. Due to environmental concerns back there, it looks like the single family units would be infeasible.  

The majority of the property is currently zoned M-1 (industrial business) along with one small section zoned B-2. The applicant is looking to rezone to M-1 with conditions. Currently, M-1 zoning does not allow for residential uses and has limits on commercial uses. For this development only, the Planning Department is looking to make an exception to having an affordable housing component for the property. Pezzullo said this would be discussed in greater detail when they get to it.

The ordinance before City Council committee members includes five conditions that will allow for expansion and redevelopment including multi-family dwelling units.

For the property’s permissible uses, the ordinance states that all uses, including self-storage and mini-storage, in the City Code in the Schedule of Uses for M-1 industrial zone as matter of right or by special use permit will apply to the Cranston Print Works Project. Additionally, multi-family dwelling units and related amenities for residents (such as health, fitness club) will be allowed as a permitted within the M-1 zoning district.

For density, a maximum of 150 units is permitted. The maximum building height is set at four stories and 50 feet – with an additional 10 feet for rooftop mechanical equipment. The conditions state that the height limitation will not apply to the existing bell tower located on the property. The maximum lot coverage will be 60 percent.

Off-street parking will be provided at no less than a ratio of two spaces dwelling unit. Commercial uses, including self-storage and mini-storage will provide a minimum of 10 off-street parking spaces.

Any signs on the property that exist as of the ordinance’s adoption date are allowed as a matter of right. The existing signage may be replaced with a sign of equal or smaller square footage or lesser height and width.

This project will be a major investment and Pezzullo added that some type of fiscal impact will be part of the applicant’s submission. He expects that the developer will have to work with the state due to the site’s historical assets.

Prior to the current applicant, Pezzullo said several previous owners tried doing something with the property but the plans never came to fruition. He’s excited to have CPW Apartments LLC and CPW True Storage (Brady Sullivan Properties) come in with their ideas because they have a track record in Rhode Island and New England of getting things done and being successful.

If the project’s master plan and zone change are approved in March, the next step would be a preliminary plan submission which will take some time.

Thinking of the future, Pezzullo said a proposed site like this is going to be beautiful.

development, Print Works


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