NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said it aims to select from one of four development proposals for the blighted Lighthouse Inn property in Galilee by Dec. 15.
The proposals submitted to the state, which would lease the land, include submissions from current leaseholder PRI X and the Town of Narragansett.
Both have been at odds with each other for more than a year over the property, which locals knew for decades as the Dutch Inn.
PRI X, a partnership between large real estate company Procaccianti Group and Paolino Properties, recently proposed a small plaza of mixed-use retail operations, backed by a 500-space parking area, as a solution to the site.
Narragansett officials and residents strongly opposed that idea, saying it was out of character with Galilee’s history as a fishing port and hub for tourists coming from and going to Block Island.
The town’s proposal would see the 5-acre site transformed into a 75 to 100-room boutique hotel with a restaurant, event hall, gallery and parking. Complementing this would be a public ferry landing plaza and open-air market directly across the street from the ferry terminal on Great Island Road.
The redevelopment program also includes plans for a 400-car parking deck adjoining the hotel for long term ferry parking, and a mixed-use building for office and housing space.
“Even with this ambitious redevelopment program, this plan still leaves approximately a third of the land available which could be used as open space, storage for marine uses, pickleball courts, festivals and/or future buildings,” Narragansett’s proposal said.
The document also estimates the development to be worth $52.2 million and that the value of the structures would generate about $625,000 in real property taxes, at current rates.
PRI X has a two-phase plan that proposes to demolish most, but not all, of the existing hotel and maintain the single-level front section which faces Great Island Road.
“This section would be extensively redeveloped with new rooflines, front façade and signage, all in the style of a typical New England fishing village,” PRI X said in its proposal. “This front section would then be divided into separate footprints and marketed to local business ideally as space for coffee shops, breakfast and lunch outlets, convenience items, ice cream outlets and similar users who can take best advantage of the pedestrian traffic generated by the Block Island Ferry passengers and parking.”
The front parking area would be replaced with landscaping, park benches, history tablets and the like to augment the retail offerings.
For phase 2, PRI X would develop the Galilee Inn, a 20 to 40-room boutique hotel, predicated on a lease of 99 years. PRI X argues it needs a long lease to secure financing. Also, the hotel’s first level would need to be above 11 feet off the ground to account for flooding and climate change concerns, the developer said.
PRI X’s current lease runs to Jan. 31, 2022, and it has filed a lease extension notice to Dec. 31, 2027. To achieve Phase I, PRI X said it will require an additional five-year extension, bringing the current term through Dec. 31, 2032.
PRI X estimates both phases to be valued at $9 million to $11 million.
A third developer, Quonset Area Aqua Development Inc., in conjunction with iCell Aqua Inc., proposes building a $30 million seafood processing facility and apparatus to purify and recycle water. The land would still offer parking and a three-story office building is part of the plan.
Rounding out the proposals, Jon Williams of the Narragansett Crab Company offered a general vision for the site that benefits the fishing industry and the town rather than a single-use commercial facility. He envisions the parcel as a hub or “fishermen’s terminal” to be used by entities involved in or affiliated with the fishing industry. His proposal did not include a projected value or price tag, timetable or other particulars but was more of a pitch to spur discussion if the other proposals fall through, Williams said.
The state and PRI X issued a request for proposals on Sept. 30 and bids came in on Nov. 15.
Proposed projects that support and complement the commercial fishing industry, the local population and the town of Narragansett and state will get particular attention, the state said.
The request for proposals, or RFP, said PRI is amenable to cooperating with the selected respondent in various ways “including a sub-lease with PRI, partnership with PRI, direct lease with RIDEM or other structure.”
The schedule outlined in the RFP calls for a final approval and execution by Jan. 15, 2022. The DEM and PRI X will have the final say on what proposal to accept.
The Lighthouse Inn closed in 2015 and has languished since that time.
The current use of the property, as set forth in the lease between DEM and Galilee Hotel Associates dated Oct. 16, 1990, is for the operation of a hotel and parking.
The hotel consisted of 100 rooms, a restaurant, a bar and a swimming pool. The hotel owners also operated the parking area which then had a capacity of approximately 300 vehicles.
PRI X closed the hotel but continued to operate the parking area, which mostly serves as parking for Block Island ferry passengers.
Since 2015, PRI X has submitted proposals to make the site a dedicated parking facility, a large restaurant and function space, and retail stores and a public park in combination with the parking use.