City of Providence threatens to evict Skyline at Waterplace

EAGER HOST: Skyline at Waterplace hosted ticketed events during the 2018 One Providence New Year’s Eve celebration. / COURTESY SKYLINE AT WATERPLACE
EAGER HOST: Skyline at Waterplace hosted ticketed events during the 2018 One Providence New Year’s Eve celebration. / COURTESY SKYLINE AT WATERPLACE

PROVIDENCE – The city has made it clear to Skyline at Waterplace LLC, show us you are maintaining your property or you will be kicked out of the venue it rents overlooking the Waterplace Park basin. 

In a letter sent to Skyline at Waterplace LLC on Monday, the city is demanding the owner of the venue provide documentation of any improvements, maintenance and repairs made on the property since December 2019, as required by a lease amendment that allowed the company to avoid rent payments for nearly three years. If no documentation is provided, the city said it will “seek payment of rent from December 1, 2019, through August 1, 2023,” totaling $270,000. 

The city claims it has received numerous complaints about the premises Skyline rents from the city at Waterpark, including trash, waste, furniture and kitchen equipment outside “in the public right of way.”

“The city has made multiple requests that Skyline maintain the area and keep the premises in a clean condition,” the letter states. “Skyline has failed to do so, and this continues to be an ongoing problem and concern.” 

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Skyline’s owner has until May 4 to provide documentation of any improvements, the city said.

The property is owned by the state and managed by and leased through the city Parks Department. Skyline at Waterplace LLC has rented the property since 2016, where it houses a three-story event venue with Rhode Island businessman Michael A. Mota.

Michael Lepizzera, the attorney representing Skyline, responded in a letter stating that he believes that the city can’t legally make Skyline repay the rent, especially since its lease was amended several times to address its struggles during the pandemic. 

Lepizzera accused the city of manufacturing “…dishonest reasons to move forward with its complaint for reasons other than non-payment of rent.” 

“Those reasons are flat out erroneous, wrong and form absolutely no legal basis to evict Skyline,” Lepizzera wrote. 

“Of the wide array of businesses impacted by the pandemic, Skyline’s business was at the tippy top of most impacted given the nature of its business as a large events venue,” Lepizzera said. “Not only did Skyline not have the ability to profit but its doors were shuttered for an extended period of time meaning it had no income at all.” 

Lepizzera described the city’s legal position as “frivolous,” especially in regard to the latest lease amendment, which extended the venue’s rent abatement through January 2023. 

“Skyline had requested a much longer rent abatement due to the pandemic,” he wrote. “The city agreed to extend the rent abatement for a much shorter period of time … It was the city that prepared the lease amendment.” 

Lepizzera said Skyline has opted to pay the city “under protest” more than $72,000 in rent to cover the six-month rent abatement period, as well as for the months of February and March. He added that Skyline plans to take legal action against the city for the disputed rent payments, which the venue expects will be reimbursed for the six-month window. 

“The hollowness of the city’s complaint demonstrates a hidden motive by the city for trying to terminate a lease without any supporting legal or factual basis and to wrongfully repossess a building that has been completely refurbished by and at the expense of Skyline,” Lepizzera said in a statement to WPRI-TV CBS 12. “The city is seeking to be unjustly enriched at the expense of the tenant.” 

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1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve been by Skyline and it’s a veritable pigsty! Garbage everywhere, cars parked wherever they want, furniture strewn all over the patio long after the place has closed. It’s a disgrace!
    Time to evict and get a proper tenant and good neighbor!