R.I. unveils 2 proposals for Cranston Street Armory

TWO PROPOSALS to restore and reopen the historic Cranston Street Armory were unveiled this week by development teams hoping to form a public-private partnership with the state, which owns the building. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE PRESERVATION SOCIETY

PROVIDENCE – Two proposals to restore and reopen the historic Cranston Street Armory were unveiled Tuesday by development teams hoping to form a public-private partnership with the state.

The building, which is state-owned, has been vacant for many years. The state in 2019 issued a request for proposal to interested developers, who could partner with the state in its renovation and reuse.

The two applicants whose proposals were unveiled Tuesday in a webinar are: BCRI Group, which is led by an Atlanta-based nonprofit that has developed community space around a motion picture studio; and scout, a Philadelphia-based development group that has previously transformed a building in South Philadelphia into Bok, a mixed-use facility attracting 190 tenants, including employers and entrepreneurs.

BCRI Group has proposed a mix of office space, food businesses, arts and cultural space in the armory building, as well as human and community-development services and a film studio. It is calling the project Armory West and has partnered with Studio Meja, a local architecture firm.

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Scout has proposed a five- to eight-year process of transforming the armory into a mixture of small business and entrepreneur space and community athletics, including a turf soccer field inside. Its principals are University of Rhode Island graduates and are working with several community groups in Providence.

The two projects will be presented again on Thursday, in a webinar that allows people to ask questions. The event is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visit the Cranston Armory website to sign up to view at www.cranstonstreetarmory.org.

Rhode Island hopes to retain ownership of the building, according to documents, and enter into a long-term lease with the preferred developer. Under the state’s terms, the building has to remain available for public use and the historic integrity of the structure must be maintained.

It is one of the largest buildings in the city, according to documents prepared for the state in 2019. It has a capacity of 140,000 square feet, second only to the R.I. Convention Center.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at MacDonald@PBN.com.

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