A selection of photos readers have recently shared in our Flickr Group:
Archives For Dynamo House
This week the Providence Preservation Society announced their 2012 list of the city’s Ten Most Endangered Properties.
- George C. Arnold Building (“The Narrow Building”)
- Jerothmul B. Barnaby House (“Barnaby’s Castle”)
- Flower Shop and Green House at 398 Hope Street
- Foreclosed Multifamily Housing Stock
- Cathedral of St. John
- Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House
- Narragansett Electric Lighting (Dynamo House)
- former Rhode Island Department of Transportation Headquarters and Garage
- Roger Williams Park Seal House
- Ward Baking Company Administration Building
Find more information about each building and the Providence Preservation Society website.
More than any other, that is the question I get most asked about. Anything happening with the Dynamo House?
I tell people I know it is firmly planted on the Planning Department’s agenda, the Mayor seems to be concerned about it, but the economy blows. Well, Providence Business News had a little more info yesterday.
Harbor East Development Group LLC is looking to take control of the project from the beleaguered Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse. Like Struever, Harbor East is Baltimore based; they were originally an investor in the Dynamo House project.
The $150 million project has been beset by numerous setbacks, with the latest being the financial implosion of Stuever Bros. We’ve written about Struever’s financial woes before.
The power plant was originally donated to the Heritage Harbor Museum by Narragansset Electric in 1999 and the entire building was to be devoted to the museum. As it became clear that Heritage Harbor could not fund a museum of that size, private investors were brought in to work with them. Eventually settling on a plan that included approximately 150,000 square feet of office space and an Aloft brand hotel.
Currently there is various grant money, state bonds, and historic tax credit money sitting in limbo to go towards funding the project. There are also a gaggle of creditors looking for money for work that has already been done, but was not paid for; putting anyone who takes over the project in a tough position.
The other tough position is making up the rest of the financing. Providence’s office vacancy currently sits at around 21% and the credit markets are what one could call, tight.
Having a big tenant lined up could persuade lenders to open the credit spigots. “We have to [find] a 150,000-square-foot user, or you’re not going to build anything,” [Michael Ricketts, Harbor East's vice president of development] said.
So we currently stand with a new developer in the process of taking over ownership of the property and control of the project. Funds floating around waiting for the project’s future to become clear (though not close to the estimated $150 million needed). A badly bruised Heritage Harbor Museum still looking to make it work. A franchise agreement for an Aloft Hotel on site. And 150,000 square feet of office space needing a tenant.
If anyone knows anyone who is looking for a 150,000 square feet of office space in Providence, have them call Harbor East.
Ted Nesi over at WPRI just posted some analysis on Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Moffitt’s proposed aquarium. An aquarium in Rhode Island rivaling the Georgia Aquarium, in Atlanta, in size has been a cornerstone of the Moffitt campaign. Moffitt has even gone so far as to set up a non-profit for the project, and has some rudimentary renderings of a possible building.
Moffitt states, “In its four years in operation, the [Georgia] aquarium has brought in 12 million visitors, pumped $4 billion into the local [Atlanta] economy and spun off 50 new businesses. Moffitt foresees a larger aquarium on Aquidneck Island or, perhaps, in East Providence.”
Nesi in his analysis pokes holes in Moffitt’s claims on the economic impact of the Georgia Aquarium on Atlanta, which are well worth following the link over to read, but his final conclusion is what we’re talking about here:
Long story short, if Moffitt wants his aquarium to have the same impact as Atlanta’s, he’d better plan to locate it in a major regional capital city and surround it with three professional sports teams, a top global news organization and a huge public park. I’m not sure if Aquidneck Island or East Providence fit the bill.
It is likely a safe bet that an aquarium in Rhode Island would have some sort of positive economic impact on the region. Would I base my gubernatorial campaign on the idea? Probably not. And I’m not really seeing how the state at this time could focus on such an endeavour, Moffitt suggests the aquarium would cost $500 million. Certainly the state doesn’t have $500 million lying around.
I’d be all for the state doing what it can to help a non-profit or some other entity raise the funds for an aquarium, so long as it was in a place that would maximize the economic impact. As Ted says, Aquidneck Island or East Providence are not those places. The Dynamo House might be though.
If we wanted an aquarium rivaling the size of the one in Georgia, we’d need the Dynamo House plus a substantial addition to it. Though we don’t necessarily need one that huge, the New England Aquarium would likely fit nicely inside the Dynamo House shell for instance.
With SBE&R having pulled out of Rhode Island, the Dynamo House’s future is very much in flux. Dynamo is not situated amongst three professional sports teams or the headquarters of a global news organization. It is however next to a proposed waterfront park, on the route of a proposed streetcar line, up the block from the extant Children’s Museum, and in the heart of the next great development frontier in Rhode Island.
If Mr. Moffitt is serious about his aquarium, this is where I think it should be.
There were a few photos hanging around in our Flickr Group before all the snow blogging madness that we wanted to share, so here they are:
Photo © gunthn
Photo © gunthn
This next photo is not so good news. That would be a photo of ice collecting in the roofless Dynamo House building.
Photo © mangeek
If you’d like your photos featured here, join our Flickr Group and submit them.