Calling all developers looking for a waterfront property in the capital city: The R.I. Department of Environmental Management wants to hear from you.
As DEM advances plans to convert the former Shooters nightclub property at India Point to a public park, the cash-strapped agency is turning to the private sector. This month the agency plans to publish a request for information, looking for a developer to construct a revenue-generating facility that can profit a developer and the state.
“Right now that’s the only way I see it working out,” DEM Director Janet Coit said. “If it were a purely public venture, I don’t know how we’d get the resources.”
Coit said she is open to reviewing virtually any proposal that complements a park and keeps public access to the water. Possible concepts include a restaurant, a fish market, a community center, a marina, a ferry service or some combination of all those. The property could even host a ferry servicing parks on Narragansett Bay islands.
Coit wants proposals returned in the fall. She then wants to set up a series of public workshops to take comments on the proposals, with the aim of rendering a decision by the end of the year. A project could start construction as soon as 2013.
“I really want to have an open-minded opportunity for people to weigh in with ideas,” Coit said. “I know there’s a lot of interest and a ton of potential.”
DEM will formally receive control of the property after the R.I. Department of Transportation completes demolition of most of the former nightclub last known as Bootleggers. Demolition is expected to start this month, a spokesman said.
The department purchased the club and its marina in 2000 as a staging area for the Interstate 195 relocation project. When DOT said that it planned to place the property on the market and use the sales proceeds to help pay for the Iway project, a coalition of neighbors intervened.