NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — With a key state deadline looming this week in efforts to redevelop the former Lighthouse Inn property in Galilee, town officials decided to roll tape on a promotional film outlining their vision for the site.
The four-minute video, produced by Thomas Mann Creative Services, summarizes the town’s pitch to transform the five-acre state parcel into a 75 to 100-room boutique hotel with a restaurant, event hall, gallery and parking.
Narragansett is vying with two other applicants, including current leaseholder PRI X, to redevelop the state-owned property. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and PRI X were expected to choose a proposal on Wednesday.
Titled “Town of Narragansett Redevelopment Proposal for the Port of Galilee Fishing Village,” the town’s video can be viewed on YouTube.
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to redevelop the vacant land in the port of Galilee,” Town Council member Ewa Dzwierzynski tells the camera while soaring music plays. “This is the time to implement our vision for the port of Galilee.”
The spot includes drone footage of the existing Lighthouse Inn site and surrounding port including the Block Island Ferry and sweeping overhead shots of the fishing piers. It mixes in computer animated modeling of the proposed development.
Joining Dzwierzynski in the video are Town Council President Jesse Pugh; Director of Community Development Michael DeLuca; Harry Schofield, chairman of the Narragansett Pier Residents Association, a group of about 170 families; Janice Holly, a member of the Galilee Advisory Committee; Chuck and Sherry Carberry of the Friends of Galilee and Drew Magee, member of the Galilee friends group and the advisory committee.
“I was really impressed and pleased with what the town came up with in terms of a creative solution for that area,” Pugh said. “Based on people I’ve talked to around town, it has a lot of support from the residents.”
Complementing the new hotel 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.
“One of the strengths of our proposals is that we take that megablock on which the hotel sits and insert new streets and new pedestrian access-ways,” DeLuca said. “These create areas of interface.”
Narragansett’s plan, Dzwierzynski said, is a public-private partnership, with the town providing a tax increment finance district to spur development.
“The town’s proposal invests in infrastructure. It will make it much more attractive for a developer to want to come in and rehabilitate this site,” DeLuca said.
The state and PRI X issued a request for proposals on Sept. 30 and bids came in on Nov. 15.
In its latest two-phase plan, PRI X – a partnership between large real estate company Procaccianti Group and Paolino Properties – proposes to demolish most, but not all, of the existing hotel and maintain the single-level front section which faces Great Island Road.
It would be extensively redeveloped with new roof lines, front façade and signage, all in the style of a typical New England fishing village. The front section would then be divided into separate footprints and marketed to local businesses to take 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 with the DEM 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.
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.
The schedule outlined in the request for proposals 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.
Thomas Mann also produced a similar nine-minute video in May, written and narrated by Dzwierzynski, that outlines the history of the site.