Shooters redevelopment plan collapses, state to reassess
PBN FILE PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
THE R.I. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT has ended negotiations with a community group looking to redevelop the India Point site where the Shooters nightclub was located. Above, it is pictured in 2011 long after it had closed and before it was razed.
PROVIDENCE - It’s back to square one for Rhode Island’s redevelopment of the former Shooters nightclub property on the Providence waterfront.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management officially broke off talks May 1 with Bowl Arts LLC, the community group that had been hoping to build a concert and performing arts venue on the site, said R.I. DEM Deputy Chief Lisa Primiano Tuesday.
Bowl Arts and the state had been negotiating a long-term lease for the 1.7-acre site since the group made the only formal response to a request for proposals in the summer of 2012.
But despite enthusiasm for the project from both state officials and Fox Point neighbors, Primiano said Bowl Arts was never able to raise the money needed to make it viable.
“There was more than one sticking point, but one thing they had to do was raise capital, and they were not able to do that,” Primiano said.
“They had spent considerable time and energy on structuring the bid and on financing and were working hard as a team,” she added. “We were supportive of their proposal till the end. There was not a change of heart, but because of the time frame, we felt we needed to step back.”
Attempts to reach Bowl Arts founder Sam White and organization attorney Keith Fayan were unsuccessful.
The property next to India Point Park, which opened in 1990, has been vacant since 2000 when the nightclub, then in its second incarnation as Bootleggers, shut its doors.
After a plan to build condominiums at the site was defeated by neighbors, Rhode Island voters in 2010 approved a referendum to buy it for $3.2 million.
The state demolished the nightclub building in 2011 and, after a less formal request for ideas brought back eight responses, issued a formal RFP in August 2012.
The RFP barred residential development and required a restaurant and public dock space. The winner would enter a 20-year lease for the land and be subject to property taxes.
With the Bowl Arts concert venue plan now dead, Primiano said the state intends to spend the next few weeks re-evaluating the situation and looking for the best option.
The state still has about $100,000 left from the 2010 bond and Primiano said she hopes that’s enough to complete temporary work to make the site publicly accessible this summer while a permanent use is found. That temporary work would include landscaping, fencing off the foundation (instead of the whole lot) and removing unwanted vegetation.
Longer term, Primiano said DEM would try to analyze why there wasn’t more interest in the previous RFP and reach out to those who had previously expressed interest.
“Just like we tried to do the last time, we are open minded in hearing from anyone with thoughts on it,” Primiano said. “We will calculate what went wrong and find out what the major obstacles are.”
She said residential uses are unlikely to be considered under DEM’s ownership.
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