It’s been 882 days since Citizens Bank publicly announced that they were building a $285 million campus off Greenville Avenue in Johnston, and since that time the company has moved mountains to complete the project.
At a ribbon cutting and flag raising ceremony held at the campus on Wednesday, bank representatives, employees, public officials and those involved in the project officially announced the opening of the buildings. The commemoration marked the end to one of the largest commercial developments in the state in the last 10 years.
“To actually bring a project of this size and scope in on time and almost exactly on budget – there was a little more rock on the site than we counted on – is really a tremendous accomplishment,” said Bruce Van Saun, chairman and CEO of Citizens Financial Group. “I want to thank the hundreds of men and women who, through their hard work and know-how, literally transformed this site, which was just a bunch of woods, into a vibrant work environment. That really epitomizes to a large degree our own transformation at Citizens to becoming a top performing bank that’s focused on helping our customers, colleagues and communities reach their potential.”
The amenities at the 123-acre site read more like a resort than that of an office. The campus’s state-of-the-art facilities account for a total of 424,763 gross square feet of office and meeting space, as well as a call center, which were designed to improve efficiency, foster teamwork while utilizing natural light.
“As I’ve said many, many times, Rhode Island is on the move. By any measure of our economy – jobs, wages, cranes, projects, development, investment – we’re on the move and we have economic momentum like we haven’t had in decades, and this is one example of that,” said Governor Gina Raimondo during the ceremony. “We dug in and said we believed in Rhode Island, and look what was accomplished because of that commitment”
The campus hosts 2,414 parking spaces with 12 electric car charging stations. A total of 3,000 desks are available for the more than 3,200 employees who will soon work at the campus. The cafeteria, larger than many restaurants in town, offers full food and beverage services. An outdoor seating area for hundreds is completed with picnic tables and water fountains.
“Rhode Island is open for business and we welcome you, the business men and women, as well as the corporations that want to make Rhode Island their home. When you come to Rhode Island and dip your toe in the business climate, you will end up investing your dollars in our great state,” said Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena. “I am very excited about Citizens Bank making Johnston their new home. This project is living proof of what happens when the town, state and a private corporation work together for good, sound economic development.”
Amenities at the campus include a Cigna Wellness Center, fitness center, technology bar, a bank branch, coffee bar, a learning and innovation center, and a colleague art gallery. Outside, there’s a clock tower standing 55 feet tall and visible from Route 295, a rain garden, fire pits and barbecue grills, two bocce courts, two basketball courts, a tennis court, volleyball court, softball field and soccer field. There are three walking trails varying in length from just over a quarter of a mile to more than a mile and a half. All outdoor recreation areas are available for both employee and public use.
“For me, Citizens is not just a bank in Rhode Island, it is Rhode Island. Today, we are celebrating that great heritage of investment in our community, not just financial investment but investment in our people, in jobs, in communities, in all those things that have made this institution and corporation remarkable,” said Senator Jack Reed. “This ribbon cutting is another symbol of a strong commitment by Citizens to the State of Rhode Island. It’s also a recognition of this extraordinary organization and its people.”
The campus property preserves 60 acres of woodlands and wetlands. A four-acre onsite landfill, historically known as Tucker’s Dump, was removed, with nearly 60,000 tons of material excavated to clean the site. Construction required the removal of 550,000 cubic yards of material, such as boulders and ledge. Blasting at the site required 83,000 pounds of explosives. Citizens incorporated an extensive storm water system for rainwater collection to protect wetlands and will use rainwater to irrigate landscaping, which was meticulously completed by Central Nurseries of Johnston.
“As a Rhode Islander, I am extremely proud of the leadership that the state has shown along with the mayor in getting this project smoothly done,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Governor Raimondo’s leadership and the mayor’s leadership were paramount and their teams did the jobs that they needed to do and the result is a success that I think Rhode Islanders can talk about for some time.”
Infrastructure improvements in the area included installation of nearly 7,000 linear feet of new sewer lines by the Narragansett Bay Commission at a cost of more than $8.5 million. A new set of on- and off-ramps for Route 295, both north and south, was completed at a cost of approximately $7 million, with the bank paying about $4 million and the state paying $3 million.
“We all know what a wonderful presence Citizens has here in our state. It’s not just about the banking and the business and dollars and cents…we see Citizens invest in our communities in so many different community projects and worthwhile endeavors,” said Congressman James Langevin.
Bank officials state that the influx of more than 3,000 employees will be a boon to local businesses, as will additional highway access provided to more potential customers. Tuesday’s ceremony saw well over 1,000 attendees, yet congestion on the newly repaved Greenville Avenue near the campus entrance was minimal.
“What’s really, I think, exciting about this facility is that it’s really a model for the way that development should happen in cities all across the country. You have a sustainable business model, you have good paying union jobs that created this facility, you have a great partnership between the local, state and federal government, preservation of the environment with sustainable best practices. It’s a real model,” said Congressman David Cicilline.
Associates will now begin moving into the facility on a rolling basis, which should be completed by October. Colleagues working at the campus are being consolidated from across the state, primarily from Warwick and a leased Davol facility in Cranston. Providence will remain as Citizens headquarters, and the bank employs approximately 5,300 colleagues in the state.