City DMV branch back on track?

Woonsocket Call - - Front Page - By RUSS OLIVO ro­livo@woonsock­et­call.com

WOONSOCKET – The state Di­vi­sion of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles’ plan to move the lo­cal reg­istry from Pond Street to a site in Woonsocket Plaza is back on track.

Af­ter a de­lay that was – for a time, any­way – un­ex­plained, the DMV now says it has an agree­ment in prin­ci­ple to move into a 5,000square-foot space in the plaza that used to be a Mc­Don­ald’s res­tau­rant.

“A new lease amend­ment has to be ap­proved by the State Prop­er­ties Com­mit­tee and the amend­ment has to be for­mally signed,” said DMV spokesman Paul Grimaldi. “We have to wait un­til the ap­proval process and the sign­ing take place. Once there is a firm com­mit­ment we will be talk­ing to the con­trac­tor to get a move-in date.”

The DMV had ne­go­ti­ated a ren­tal agree­ment with a com­pany work­ing for the own­ers of Woonsocket Plaza in July 2016, but a year later the DMV was scratch­ing its head over the sta­tus of the deal. The move was sup­posed to take place by April, but the DMV couldn’t even get in touch with the leas­ing agent.

Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt said the com­mu­ni­ca­tions break­down was the re­sult of a change in leas­ing man­agers by the own­ers of the plaza, Madi­son Prop­er­ties of New York. Anew com­pany is in charge of leas­ing for the Di­a­mond Hill Road shop­ping cen­ter and it has worked out the es­sen­tials of a new con­tract with the DMV.

“I’m ex­tremely pleased,” said Baldelli-Hunt. “I’ve put in a lot of time and ef­fort into mak­ing sure that the DMV stays in Woonsocket. It’s not only a con­ve­nience to pa­trons of the reg­istry of mo­tor ve­hi­cles who come in from other cities and towns – it’s ad­di­tional traf­fic that comes into the Di­a­mond Hill Road area.”

Statewide, the mayor said roughly 1.3 mil­lion pa­trons are served by the DMV ev­ery year and the Pond Street reg­istry is the sec­ond-busiest of its satel­lites, com­plet­ing about 10 per­cent of all mo­tor ve­hi­cle trans­ac­tions.

With the shift to Di­a­mond Hill Road, all that traf­fic will be drawn into the city’s cen­tral shop­ping zone, which is good for busi­ness, the

mayor says.

“That of­fice will drive ap­prox­i­mately 130,000 peo­ple a year into that area,” Baldelli-Hunt said.

The DMV has main­tained a lo­cal reg­istry at one lo­ca­tion or an­other in Woonsocket for decades, and the agency has ex­pressed a strong in­ter­est in keep­ing one here. By late 2015, how­ever, af­ter declar­ing the Pond Street site ob­so­lete, the DMV was about ready to give up on the city – un­til Baldelli-Hunt in­ter­vened.

The agency had al­ready is­sued pub­lic so­lic­i­ta­tions for a suit­able al­ter­na­tive to the Pond Street site on more than one oc­ca­sion, but it re­ceived no replies. DMV of­fi­cials said they would try one more time, but if the ef­fort didn’t yield any prospects in the city, it would very likely ex­pand the search to a wider stretch of north­ern Rhode Is­land.

Baldelli-Hunt urged the own­ers of both plazas on Di­a­mond Hill Road to re­spond to the re­quest for pro­pos­als, re­sult­ing in Madi­son Prop­er­ties’ of­fer of a cor­ner store­front that was orig­i­nally a Mc­Don­ald’s res­tau­rant. Mc­Don­ald’s now op­er­ates a free­stand­ing, 24hour res­tau­rant in the 23store plaza, which in­cludes the Burling­ton Coat Fac­tory, a Price-Rite su­per­mar­ket and Ol­lie’s Bar­gain Out­let.

If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, Baldelli-Hunt says the new reg­istry could open by the end of March.

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