Developer hopes to build 62-unit affordable housing complex on former Pines Restaurant property

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – Previous plans to reopen a beloved restaurant once situated in the woods of North Smithfield have fallen through and now, a Cranston-based developer has purchased the property, with hopes to convert it into 62 units of affordable housing.

Cranston-based RPA Services, LLP purchased the 7.52 acre lot at 1204 Pound Hill Road, which once held The Pines Restaurant, for $650,000 last month.

On Thursday, the town Planning Board will meet with a team acting on behalf of RPA for pre-application concept review of a proposal to convert the former restaurant into apartments, and also build three new, two-story structures on the lot.

The restaurant, which closed abruptly in 2017, was purchased by Massachusetts-based investor Rosa Zhang in 2019. Zhang filed for a building permit with the town in 2020 to create a 265-seat restaurant with outdoor seating, but pandemic-related delays reportedly held up the project. In 2022, former town Building Inspector Kerry Anderson told NRI NOW that Zhang said she was ready to begin renovations.

But that never happened, and the property went up for sale once again last year.

According to a letter to planners submitted by Attorney Kelley Morris Salvatore from Darrow Everette, LLP, new plans for the lot include 62 units of low to moderate income housing with private wells and septic, dubbed Pines Apartments.

“In light of changes to state law, we are taking the opportunity to discuss the new requirements, including procedure and density issues,” noted Salvatore.

The 7,441-square-foot former restaurant would be converted into 14 dwelling units according to the proposal, with three more structures to be built on the property; two holding 12 units, and one holding 24 units. Site plans provided by Engineer Advance Civil Design, Inc. envision the four buildings forming a circle around a 116-space parking lot.

The developer has proposed dedicating 100 percent of the units on the residentially-zoned property to low and moderate income housing, a plan which Salvatore noted, “we can further discuss relative to the needs of the town.”

Situated in a grove of white pines from which it once derived its name, the structure that served as The Pines Restaurant was built in 1936, according to town property records. An etching on the fireplace marks that the structure once held a fish-flying club.

It was opened as a restaurant in 1965 by the Peloquin family, and changed ownership in 2012, when it was purchased by KITA Realty, a company managed by David Healey. Zhang bought it in August of 2019 for $425,000.

Pre-application concept review of the Pines Apartments project will take place at the Planning Board’s meeting on Thursday, April 11, which starts at 6 p.m. at Town Hall at 83 Green St.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. 62 units on 7 acres of land, when every other home builder in this area requires a minimum of 1.5 acres to build? This lant may be commercial, but the surrounding area is RA. This goes entirely against the purpose of zoning. Not fair to surrounding land owners.

    • That property is across the street from demolished nuclear missile silos, through the woods a bit from an enormous sand & gravel quarry, and downstream from the landfill superfund site. Housing would be a much better use than an empty lot.

      • You’re spreading false information. The Army base you’re referring to was a Nike missile base (surface to air) that was decommissioned in the early 1970s. This is not a “demolished” nuclear missile site. It remained as a storage unit for howitzers and other ground support equipment up until 2 years ago, when everything was moved out and remaining buildings were taken down. The area is landscaped and open space. The superfund site on Old Oxford Rd and the sand and gravel operation are a mile away. What does this have to do with RA zoning?

        • RC, unfortunately JoshW just comments to get a rise from anyone posting on this site. As I stated in an earlier post, he or she is clueless.

        • The buildings have all been demolished, and it was built to store & launch Nike Ajax & Hercules air defense missiles and the Hercules missiles used nuclear warheads; therefore ‘demolished nuclear missile silos’.

          Neither the old base nor the Pines property are landscaped, they look abandoned, and they’re both physically and legally closed off to the public so hardly ‘open space’.

          My point is this, it’s commercial property 3 mins from two state highways, and 5 from a major highway, which is why there are commercial properties on Pound Hill in the first place. Denser housing needs to go somewhere, and of the things in that neighborhood to be concerned about affecting quality of life, a new development on existing & disused commercial property should be low on the list.

  2. Isn’t there another affordable housing project going in at the old Tupperware Facility on Great Rd? I thought that project was supposed to put us over the 10% mark?

    • That would put us over 10% if built I believe, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need more, or that developers won’t build more.

  3. Where does NS currently stand on the 10% affordable housing requirement? If we are below 10%, the Planning Boards role changes to a one-stop approval if I recall from my time on the board. This means they effectively cover the zoning, planning, and entire approval process.

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