SOUTH KINGSTOWN – According to new census figures released Wednesday, South Kingstown has seen the largest population growth in South County, adding 2,718 residents or a growth rate of 9.7 percent. The new figures brings South Kingstown’s population up to 30,639.
Town Manager Stephen A. Alfred contributed the population increase to the change in housing development and construction.
“The construction over the past few years has been for apartments, condominiums and assisted living facilities. There’s been major development in the past 10 years, ” Alfred said. “The development of senior housing in the town is the lion share if where the increase is.”
Despite having the largest growth in South County, Alfred pointed out that growth in South Kingstown has actually slowed down in the past ten years. Alfred said the growth is less than what is has been in past decades. Between 1980 and 1990, the population grew by 21 percent and between 1990 and 2000, the population grew by 13 percent.
Planning Director Vincent Murray said the town experienced the largest growth during the beginning of the decade due to the many projects build, like the South County Commons, built during that time.
“There was fairly high growth at the beginning of the decade. We did pale off at the end with the recession and larger projects being build at the beginning of that time,” Murray said.
Murray added that the growth rate curve for the town is flattening due to more land reserved for open space.akes growth and development off the table. Once it’s preserved, it can’t come back for growth.”
Alfred also said housing patterns are changing, shifting from single family homes that were popular in the 1980s and 1990s to apartments, condominiums, and senior housing.
From 2000 to 2010, there was a slow down in single family developments, but an increase in condos and senior housing,” Alfred said.
Alfred attributed South County Commons as one development that has impacted the population growth. South County Commons includes 64 condos, 234 apartments and a retirement community. He also said that the number of people living in group housing, such as the University of Rhode Island dormitories has increased. In 2007, URI added two apartment complexes, North Woods and Wiley, and a third residence hall, Eddy to the campus.
Murray said the census results were what the town was anticipating.
“South Kingstown is a beautiful community and will continue to be a desirable place to move to. We have a lot of attraction here, including URI, the beaches and South County Hospital. All of these are important to the quality of life,” Murray said.
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