Quonset: From former military base
to region’s leading business park

August 31, 2018 - Spotlights
President John Kennedy shown at Quonset Point Naval Air Station with
former Rhode Island governor John Notte, Jr. and vice admiral Charles Weakley.

 

Aerial view of the Port of Davisville, with two cargo ships docked

 

The Northeast corridor serves as the western boundary of one of the country’s best examples of a former military facility enjoying renewed life as a successful industrial park.  Located in North Kingstown, R.I. 20 miles south of Providence the 3,200-acre Quonset Business Park is home to over 200 companies and nearly 12,000 jobs.  Today, Quonset is the leading engine of economic development and job creation in Rhode Island and is home to one out of every seven manufacturing jobs in the state. Quonset’s rich history sets us apart as the premier business park in the region. 

Early Years: Just before World War II, Quonset became home to not one, but two military bases -- the Quonset Naval Air Station and the Davisville Construction Battalion Center.  Davisville was the original home of the U.S. Navy’s famed “SeaBees”, and the place where the now world-famous “Quonset hut” was invented.  The two bases were closed in the early 1970s. 

Steven King
Quonset Development Corp.

2000s: Following the base closures, the land at Quonset and Davisville was managed and developed by various state entities until the Rhode Island General Assembly created Quonset Development Corp. (QDC) on July 1, 2004.  What immediately set the QDC apart from other industrial parks was its convenient access to the Port of Davisville. As Rhode Island’s only public port, Davisville hosts one of the Top 10 auto importers in North America and handles other cargoes as well. With the Port of Davisville in action, the Quonset Business Park quickly became the state’s leading job creator, transforming Rhode Island’s economic landscape for years to come. 

Today: Quonset’s central location in the heart of Southern New England has made it the premier business park in the region today. The 200 plus tenants benefit from many amenities exclusive to Quonset. In addition to the Port of Davisville, the Park offers tenants a modern freight service on 14 miles of rail track.  Operated today by Quonset tenant Seaview Railroad, the rail lines carried a record-breaking volume of cargo in 2017. The Park also includes 22 acres of athletic fields, a premier public golf course and a bike path that runs along the northern edge of the park to Narragansett Bay. And if that is not enough, there are four beautiful, publicly accessible beaches for people to enjoy the coastal beauty of the Bay. Quonset Development Corp. is a leader in clean energy, all of the QDC offices and other facilities in the park are now powered 100% by solar energy. 

Future: Quonset Business Park is always looking for new businesses to set up shop on the 215 acres of land remaining to be leased. The new Flex Industrial Campus, the first of its kind in Rhode Island, will fill a void in the region for cutting edge “move-in ready” industrial space. Construction of the first building is complete, offering pre-prepared spaces for immediate leasing. As we near our 15th anniversary, we continue to keep an eye on the future.  

As we move into the next phase of the Business Park with our new Flex Industrial Space and increased clean energy capacity for our offices, Quonset Development Corp. congratulates New England Real Estate Journal on its 55th anniversary!

Steven King, PE, is the managing director of Quonset Development Corp., North Kingstown, R.I.

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