NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Potential developers with an interest in transforming the blighted Lighthouse Inn property in Galilee have until Nov. 15 to submit their proposals to the state.
The owner of the five-acre parcel, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management — along with leaseholder PRI X — issued a request for proposals on Sept. 30.
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.
“DEM is committed to working on a plan for the property that preserves and enhances the Port of Galilee as an asset that serves and supports Rhode Island’s commercial fishing interests,” DEM Acting Director Terry Gray said. “Galilee is home port for almost 200 fishermen in Rhode Island’s commercial fishing fleet and home to many critical industries that bring fresh seafood to markets locally, nationally, and globally. The opportunity to use this site to grow that industry is totally aligned with DEM’s commitment that Galilee remain a vibrant working waterfront for the commercial fishermen who berth there and the many commercial crews up and down the Atlantic Coast that do business there.”
The request for proposals, or RFP, says 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 respondent to be chosen by Dec. 15, and a final approval and execution by Jan. 15, 2022.
The request for proposals grants a significant role to the current lessee, PRI X, which is part of the large real estate company Procaccianti Group.
The RFP allows PRI X not only to independently evaluate the proposals, along with DEM, but to also submit a proposal of its own. It also allows DEM and PRI X to reject any and all submissions for any reason and to cancel the RFP for any reason.
The Lighthouse Inn, formerly called the Dutch Inn, closed in 2015 and has languished since that time, residents and town officials said.
In August, Narragansett’s Town Council announced plans to host a workshop for ideas about what should replace the Lighthouse Inn. It came after news that the DEM agreed to renew its lease with PRI X for another six months.
The council would hire a development and planning facilitator to outline various land uses scenarios consistent with the Galilee Special District plan.
The scenarios include mixed-use housing, retail, park and parking options, but the choices aren’t limited to those proposals.
Among other actions the town could take beyond a workshop are petitioning the state for Narragansett to acquire the land and redevelop the site, litigate for control of the parcels, or seek legislative action to revamp the state statutes that currently give DEM its power to oversee the site.
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 closed the hotel in 2015 but continued to operate the parking area, which mostly serves as parking for Block Island ferry passengers.
While most leases with the state have a term limit of 20 years, leases by DEM to tenants in the port have a maximum term of 40 years, typically in five-year option increments. At the end of the 40-year term, lessees may either vacate or seek an additional lease term.
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.
In April, the Narragansett Town Council asked the state’s attorney general to investigate the lease of the property, claiming that lessee PRI X had failed to maintain the blighted parcel for years. There’s been no written response from the office of Attorney General Peter Neronha.
In February, the council unanimously passed a resolution opposing plans by PRI X to turn the site into a small retail plaza backed by more than 500 parking spaces.