When the state tried to sell the former Shooters nightclub property on Providence’s Fox Point waterfront to developers three years ago, neighbors revolted over the thought of a 15-story condominium tower looming over India Point Park.
So state leaders set about developing the 1.7-acre property into a publicly accessible gateway marina with commercial, recreational and cultural space replacing residences.
Now Rhode Islanders will find out if the economics of such a project can attract the private investment needed to make the public-private partnership work and turn the site into a dynamic connection between the city and Narragansett Bay.
In a request for proposals released last week, the state seeks development teams to put their best ideas, and financial packages, for developing the Shooters India Street site forward by Oct. 4.
The RFP comes after the state a year ago solicited informal proposals – minus financials – for redeveloping Shooters and received eight responses.
Most were from community groups and only one from a development firm, UbiGo LLC, an affiliate of Truth Box Inc., the company that built the Box Office out of shipping containers on Harris Avenue in Providence.
Lisa Primiano, deputy chief of the Division of Planning and Development at the DEM, acknowledged that finding a developer willing to put the money up to build something at Shooters looks like the greatest challenge going forward.
“I felt like if I had a built building, I could find a tenant, but I need someone to build the building,” Primiano said.
Although the RFP leaves a significant amount of flexibility for teams to come up with ways to generate revenue from the property, there are requirements.
The winner will be asked to enter into a 20-year lease agreement with two 10-year renewal options and, under state law for long-term leases, pay the property taxes for the site.