New AG Customer Service Center celebrates topping off

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Despite a little humidity, it was a perfect day for a milestone.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and about a dozen staff members came down to the site of his office’s new Customer Service Center on 4 Howard Ave. in Cranston to celebrate the structure’s ceremonial “topping off.” That process involves moving the building’s highest steel beam into place, but before the crane lifted it up Kilmartin and his staff signed it to mark the occasion.

Amy Kempe, Kilmartin’s public information officer, said location was key as it will be situated right on the corner of Howard Avenue and Pontiac Avenue. It will be along the same road as the DMV and Harrington Hall, as well as right near the Department of Labor and Training.

“I think it’s great because it’s right on the corner,” Kempe said last Wednesday. “You can’t miss it.”

The center, slated for completion next spring, is budgeted in total at just under $15 million and will be about 27,000 square feet.

Kempe added that construction is moving “pretty quick” thus far, with anywhere between 25 and 28 workers taking on the project every day. Director of Operations Bill Masse said that number has reached a maximum of 80 in one day.

When all is said and done, the center should employ about 40 to 45 people.

The first floor of the building will feature background checks with the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI), diversion and the consumer protection unit (CPU). The basement will contain the informational technology and utilities with about 5,500 square feet left untouched in case of any necessary future improvements.

“The way it’s built is technically very unique, because it’s really like a floor and a half,” Kempe said. “There will space down here in the basement and that will be all construction and electrical and utility.”

The main purpose of the hub will be to alleviate some of the stress on the main office at 150 South Main St. in Providence. Parking is limited there, and that presents a problem with the office’s high volume.

“The purpose of the customer service is, right now if you need a background check or if you need to come in to see our consumer protection, you need to come down to our Providence office. Find a place to park,” Kempe challenged, adding a laugh. “On South Main Street of all places. Our BCI window sees about, on average, about 300 to 350 people a day.”

Cranston provides something Providence rarely can: a parking lot. The second location also provides a little bit more breathing room inside.

“The one complaint that we’ve always heard is, there’s no lobby space, they’re snaked outside in inclement weather,” Kempe said. “So this will offer plenty of free parking, centrally located on the same complex with other state agencies. Not too far off the highway, on a direct bus route. Plenty of lobby space, comfortable space.”

Kempe also made a point of mentioning there is no taxpayer money in the project.

The funding comes from a 2011 settlement with Google, of which the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office received $60 million of the $500 million disbursed. The Google settlement was the result of the company allowing Canadian pharmacies to advertise through its AdWords program, thus “resulting in the unlawful importation of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the United States.”

The center was designed by Vision 3 and Bacon Construction was contracted for the construction work. Last Wednesday’s press release also mentions that the building will be one of only 22 in the state to own a LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) silver rating. It’s earned through various energy efficient features, ranging from the 300 solar panels that will adorn the building to “low flow” plumbing.

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