City DMV branch back on track?
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
“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.