Officials say the first new building on the former Interstate 195 land is expected to be completed this summer on one of two parcels bought by Johnson & Wales University.
The Providence school bought the land for $3.9 million from the state Department of Transportation in 2012.
The 71,000-square-foot building will house the university's School of Design and Engineering and its undergraduate biology program. It's expected to be completed by July.
Chancellor John Bowen has said the project is part of the school's effort to expand its health and science curriculum and encourage students to launch their own companies and create new products.
University spokesman Ryan Crowley tells The Providence Journal students are expected to begin attending classes in the fall.
Officials say the project costs $42 million.